Sean Fitzpatrick expects Ireland to challenge at 2019 World Cup

The All Black legend was speaking ahead of the Ireland-England match

Sean Fitzpatrick expects Ireland to challenge at 2019 World Cup

Sean Fitzpatrick of New Zealand and Serge Blanco of France. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Former All Black captain Sean Fitzpatrick expects Joe Schmidt's men to challenge for the next Rugby World Cup in Japan in 2019.

Speaking to the Evening Standard ahead of the final round of Six Nations matches this weekend, the All Black legend said: "While I see England really challenging New Zealand at the 2019 World Cup, Ireland won't be that far behind. England cannot afford to get too far ahead of themselves.

"I didn't think anyone would get as close to the All Blacks' record so quickly. It is a great achievement and, like the All Blacks, England don't go away in games. But it is very difficult to know how close England are to the All Blacks because they are not playing each other."

England are looking to surpass New Zealand's record of 18 consecutive wins this weekend and the Kiwi provided a warning to the English ahead of the match, saying: "To win 19 consecutive matches would be an achievement, but you have to beat the No.1 team in the world in that run.

"England can beat the All Blacks' record but you would have hoped that in those 19 matches they would have come across New Zealand. Ireland will chuck the kitchen sink at England in Dublin.

Ireland's Robbie Henshaw scores a try despite Alex Goode of England. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

"Watching the Six Nations, it is a different style of rugby compared to how England played in the autumn against the Southern Hemisphere teams. It is a more attritional game and not as open as the way Ireland played against the All Blacks in Chicago," he added. 

The last time the two sides met in the Six Nations in Dublin, Ireland won 19-9.