Well better late than never and after Ireland's opening victory over Romania, we're all hoping for the same about the Irish team. So here goes:
The draw is a big bonus to Ireland & the Argentinian coach is moaning about the fact already (nice!). 4 games over 4 weekends and also a nice 'warm-up' with the 2 minnows from the group up first (Romania and Uruguay). Then we meet Las Pumas before finishing up with Australia.
Really you couldn't pick a better build up of games and hopefully it's all set up for a top of the table clash on Nov 1. After going down to Las Pumas in the last world cup it is imperative that Ireland make the Quarter Finals this time round.
Keith Woods, back in the fold and leading the team, is a big bonus to the whole team & country. After a horrific run of injuries, everyone is hoping that he comes through unscathed and improves with each game. This RWC is his final fling and let's hope he turns on the style and inspires the team to do likewise.
The travelling (& local) boys in green will provide a huge fillup for the team with strong support.
The Group - called the Group of Death (how original!). It is definitely the strongest group with 3 teams vying for 2 QF places. Meeting the aussies on their own patch & our conquerers from the last RWC is not what Ireland would have wanted. However we know that if we win our first 2 games it sets us up nicely for the remaining games and if successful, then the QF onwards...
The weather - who would believe it - having trained all year for hot & dry conditions, the first 3 weeks 'on tour' have been blighted by the cold and wet weather in the sydney area. Let's hope it improves (or maybe not??).
Geordan Murphy (FB) breaking a leg in the final warm-up game v Scotland was a huge blow as he has looked our best back all year putting O'Driscoll in the shade. The RWC was the platform that many felt would launch him firmly into the minds of all rugby lovers, a huge blow for a player of genuine class.
Players to look out for
Wood - Hooker, the talisman and leader.
O'Connell - Lock, huge potential and now's the time to show it.
Gleeson - Openside Flanker, born in Ireland but rared in Australia and returning to where he learned his rugby - here's hopeing he shows what they missed!
Costello - Flanker / No.8, the man that puts in the hard yards, crashing the ball up the middle.
Humphreys / O'Gara - No.10, whichever gets the nod needs to control proceedings (O'Gara's the man for me...so expect Humphreys to be selected!)
Stringer - scrumhalf who dictates the tempo.
O'Driscoll - Centre, needs to produce the form he showed during the Lions visit.
Hickey - left wing, who's confidence is now on a high - watch him fly....
All the talk is now over & all preparation done. Regardless of the results this is the best prepared irish side to travel to any RWC. Consequently now is the time for them to deliver. If we go out at the Pool stage then it'll be a massive disappointment, full-stop.
A win over Argentina and giving the Aussies a mighty run for top spot is expected, followed by a QF spot. A SF spot would represent a successful run in the RWC and isn't beyond this unit if the play to their potential - whether they will is anyone's guess - and would justify the IRB's no.3 ranking that Ireland were given prior to the start of the RWC.