Lomu: Ireland RWC dark horse

2011-07-15 09:04

Rarotonga - All Blacks legend Jonah Lomu has named Ireland as the dark horse at this year's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand and warned any title contenders will underestimate Pacific teams at their peril.

While making it clear that he believes New Zealand are the favourites for the September 9-October 23 tournament, Lomu said Ireland's ageing squad was not being given the respect it deserved.

"If there's a team that you have to be wary about, and not many people are talking about them, it's Ireland," Lomu told reporters in the Cook Islands during a trip to promote the World Cup.

"Purely because I've watched a lot of their teams. I've watched Leinster play in the Heineken Cup and they were very impressive, especially up front.

"A lot of those players are coming to the end of their career and they'll put everything on the line."

Ireland are fourth in the International Rugby Board (IRB) world rankings, the highest-placed northern hemisphere team, and showed their capability with a comprehensive 24-8 win over England in the Six Nations tournament.

Lomu, who has scored a record 15 tries at World Cups, said conditions in New Zealand would also suit the Irish, while veterans such as Brian O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara would be desperate to finish their last World Cup on a high.

The 36-year-old said Ireland's low profile could work to their advantage with the spotlight on "the usual suspects" such as South Africa, New Zealand and more recently Australia, after the Queensland Reds won the Super 15 title.

"They're going to slide in under the radar because I think everybody's talking about how the (Queensland) Reds have beaten the Crusaders for Australia and France coming without (Sebastien) Chabal," he said.

"They're just going to do their job and do what they need to do."

Lomu, a devastating winger who made his international debut aged 19 but was forced into early retirement after a long battle with a rare kidney disease, said Pacific nations could play a crucial role in the tournament.

He said the hard-tackling islanders could destroy the chances of any side that did not take them seriously.

"The wild cards will be the Polynesians. If you take any of those Polynesian teams too lightly - Fiji, Tonga, Samoa - you could get punished physically, and that could take a toll on you later in the tournament," he said.

"To win the tournament, you've got to get through fresh but also without any injuries, cross your fingers that you don't have injuries to key players and be ready for the final."

Lomu, who was born in New Zealand but spend much of his childhood in Tonga, said he believed the All Blacks could win on home soil.

"I'm a through and through All Blacks supporter and they'll be my team but I know there's so many teams to watch out for," he said.


  • Pears - 2011-07-15 09:11

    Go Bokke!!! Back to back World Cups would be grrrrrrrrrrrrreat!

      The_Fox - 2011-07-15 09:55

      Thank you for pointing out the obvious.

      Stox - 2011-07-15 23:11

      The_Fox: Thank you for pointing out the obvious obvious. You must be a fan of inception :)

  • Gomez - 2011-07-15 10:07

    Ireland has never made it pass the quarters....Nah...As a team they just don't gell well enough together.Exceptional individuals but not as a team there is just that something missing.

  • Tools1 - 2011-07-15 10:08

    what a rugby brain! what a nob skin!

  • Raka13 - 2011-07-15 10:11

    Love the Irish!!! Hope they have a good WC.

      Bob - 2011-07-15 10:46

      Raka13, some sense at last, the Irish always give their all, they always make their supporters proud, also they don't blame the ref for every desicion that goes against them like a certain team and it's supporters I could mention.

  • TF44 - 2011-07-15 10:45

    This is just media hype. Guys like to make statements like this, then they can say that they called it. Ireland will make the quarterfinals. The truth is, if you had to bet your life on who the winner would be, there is only one team you would pick... everyone else are the dark horses...

  • Brive - 2011-07-15 10:52

    Debate all you want but if the Wallabies and the All Blacks don't square off before the final they will be the 2 teams there at the end with Australia being the dark horse!

  • seansauk - 2011-07-15 11:06

    France vs NZ , England vs Argentina, Aus vs Ireland and SA vs Wales.... Those are the games I'm looking forward to in the first round....going to be krakalacking...

  • Black Beauty - 2011-07-15 11:22

    Ireland are a decent team but saying that I wouldn't put a wager on it. Maybe/possibly they might beat SA like they have in the past but I doubt it. For a small country without rugby being their main sport I think they push well above their weight.

  • clarke - 2011-07-15 11:50

    There is a reason why people don't consider them contenders, In their entire rugby history they have never beaten the all blacks. NOT ONCE. While they might be able to cause a few upsets, I definitely cannot see them winning it, Australia and to a lesser degree England are the dark horses.

      Black Beauty - 2011-07-15 12:36

      I agree. I never bet against the AB's (patriotism) but if I did I would place a $20 bet on England for the odds, but I won't.

  • StaalBurgher - 2011-07-15 13:18

    Yes, yes currently this is one of the better Irish teams they've had. Two problems (1) depth is a problem, they don't have many world class players behind those in the starting team (2) even with this top side they do have it is still difficult for them to beat any SH team in Ireland let alone 3 on-the-trot in NZ, which would likely be SA, NZ, AUS to win the tournament. A very, very dark horse indeed. So much so this article is just hype. I would be hugely impressed if they proved me wrong.

  • owen lentz - 2011-07-15 14:54

    Lomu should just dissapear....,"He is ruining that aura that use to hover around his name" Wide to LOMU, ...his got the bounce, ......his handed of his oppisite, ....LOMU!...Ahhh, ......AGHHHHHHHHHH................................!!!!!!!.try!!!!!! Sorry boet, youve had your time in the sun, time to sit in the shade and do some work.respect.

      Bob - 2011-07-15 15:07

      Owen, I hope you have been drinking.

      owen lentz - 2011-07-15 15:08

  • Cuzin - 2011-07-15 15:18

    France is always a dark horse, they are so unpredictable. If the Boks don't win it, I hope it's France. They're due.

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