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Ireland will be better off playing France in a quarter final than New Zealand | BRIAN O'DRISCOLL

Going very much against the prevailing opinions, Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll believes Ireland have a better chance of knocking the hosts France out of the World Cup than they do of beating New Zealand in a quarter final.



Ireland will be better off pla...
Rugby

Ireland will be better off playing France in a quarter final than New Zealand | BRIAN O'DRISCOLL

Going very much against the prevailing opinions, Irish legend Brian O'Driscoll believes Ireland have a better chance of knocking the hosts France out of the World Cup than they do of beating New Zealand in a quarter final.

France got their home World Cup off to the perfect start with a big win over previous front-runners the All Blacks in the opening game of the showpiece on Friday.

This followed New Zealand's record defeat in Twickenham against South Africa, just two weeks earlier. The two heavy defeats, and the performances in them, have lead many to discount the All Blacks as World Cup title contenders, in favour of the World No. 1 Ireland, the hosts France, and the defending champions South Africa.

If not discounting them as title contenders, most have suggested that Ireland would stand their best chance of finally getting to a semi-final if it were Sam Cane's New Zealand side that they met at the quarter-final stage.

However, Brian O'Driscoll fears the wounded All Black, while France is slightly less daunting, but only slightly.

'They won't be that bad again'

Speaking on Off The Ball, O'Driscoll insisted on not taking New Zealand by just their previous two performances.

"New Zealand won't be that bad again," O'Driscoll said. "They made so many unforced errors. I don't think it's as good a New Zealand team as the last eight World Cups, but they're still good though!

"You still would be worried about taking on New Zealand. You look at how penetrative they were for their try after 90 seconds, and then they went to a bit lateral, it was very un-New Zealand like.

"I don't know if they quite have the ball players and the physicality that they had in previous World Cups. That said, if they click, and we've seen in the Rugby Championship when they do click, they play fast and frenetic and win quick ruck ball.

"They're very skilful, very good passers of the ball, powerful in some positions. They've got lots of components, they still can put together a very good game.

"I just don't anticipate that they will be as poor as they were, particularly in the second half, against France."

Why Ireland would prefer France

The hosts were not at their absolute best to beat the All Blacks on Friday night, however they still took home a 27-13 victory over the three-time champions.

With Andy Farrell's side set to face one of those two teams in the quarter final (if they indeed make it out of Pool B as they should), O'Driscoll suggested that, by the slimmest of margins, he'd prefer to face France.

"I don't know which is more beneficial," O'Driscoll said. "Weirdly, I think maybe France, but I don't know. I look at France, and the way they're playing, particularly if they don't have Jonathan Danty.

"He is their game! He gives them advantage line in the backs, like they get in the forwards with [Gregory] Alldritt and from [Uini] Atonio and [Charles] Ollivon.

"He can get over the advantage line, and that's their game. Defences on their heels, having to back-pedal to get back onside, then off the line, and the knock-on effect is big ballcarriers around the corner.

"It's a very obvious game plan that they are playing. I don't think there's too much finesse to what they're doing, but they do have some game-breakers in [Matthieu] Jalibert and [Damian] Penaud and [Gabin] Villiere.

"But I think Ireland will cause them problems in attack. I really do. I think their defensive system, again, miss a lot of tackles, but a lot of it is about being in the eye-line.

"I don't know if the wingers are as comfortable in the defence system as you would want them to be."

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