O’Connell managing expectations

Date published: September 19 2015

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell understands that the 2015 World Cup might present the nation's best opportunity to lift the title.

Since March 2014, Ireland has been defeated on just three occasions. Twice against Wales and once against England – in a World Cup warm-up fixture at Twickenham. While the team has stumbled twice in its last two outings, the overwhelming performances in the Six Nations offer considerable encouragement ahead of the nation's World Cup campaign.

O'Connell has been in a similar position in the past, which would no doubt have prepared him for this particular tournament.

"Certainly in 2007 we got engulfed with the expectation of the World Cup and we felt that we had to say we had a chance of winning it, to make ourselves believe it," he said.

"We had such high hopes. Unfortunately, we didn't perform at all, we didn't do what we did in 2011 when we played well but lost to a good Welsh team.

"We just completely flopped and didn't perform at all. It was just a really disappointing experience in every way. But I think going into this one we know that we can put ourselves in with a chance." 

Ireland will compete against France, Italy, Canada and Romania in Pool D at the World Cup. The expectation is that the home nation will emerge from all of those confrontations virtually unscathed, which should pave the way for a vicious assault during the knock-out phases.

"It's a slim chance and it's an outside chance," added O'Connell.

"It has worked really well for us in the last 18 months under Joe, not getting too obsessed with the bigger picture and focusing on the here and now."