Ireland second-row Donncha O’Callaghan has made it clear he doesn’t want to return home from the upcoming World Cup with the same sense of disappointment he experienced four years ago. Ireland failed to progress past the group stage at the tournament in 2007, with the fall-out from that poor performance long lasting in the Emerald Isle. The Irish fans will know what they expect from their team this year and that doesn’t include another early exit.
O’Callaghan is determined to avoid a repeat in fortunes this time around and has admitted those surviving players from four years ago will be using that pain as motivation this time around. Fans of Betfair rugby union will be keeping a close eye on him.
“It is a totally different team from then. I’ll be honest. It is the disappointments in sport that drive you on to excel and do well,” he said.
“I know anyone that was there and will be lucky enough to go on this one will not want to come back with the same feeling of regret.”
Declan Kidney’s side have hardly enjoyed a faultless preparation period for next month’s start of the tournament, with warm-up game defeats to both France and Scotland. Kidney has been quick to play down the importance of these results, insisting the two matches will have no bearing when the tournament starts proper for Ireland on September 11th, coincidentally against the USA. The Rugby Union betting odds show it should be a fairly one-sided game.
Along with the USA, Ireland will have to come through their pool which contains Russia, Australia and Italy. While by no means a walkthrough group for the Irish, it will be an easier proposition than their 2007 pool which had both Argentina and France in. Anything less than a place in the semi-finals would have to be classed as a failure for a team that were until recently ranked fourth in the world.
While Australia will have to be heavy favourites to top the group, it will be between the Irish and the Italians for that second spot. The Azzurri may have made their goal of reaching the quarter-finals clear, but the Irish won’t be ready to accept that and will have their sights firmly set on that all-important second spot and a place in the knockout stages.
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