Cape Town - Only three teams are capable of winning three consecutive knockout matches to win the Rugby World Cup in Japan this year.
That is the view of legendary former Springbok lock Victor Matfield.
Matfield was speaking at Sandton's Investec offices Wednesday where he said his money was on either South Africa, New Zealand or Ireland.
"There's always something to fear. If you look at how the World Cup is set up, there's seven teams that could beat each other on any given day," Matfield said, as quoted by Rugby Pass.
"Any of those teams can beat New Zealand and South Africa. However‚ I think there's only three big teams that can win three consecutive knock-out games. All of them are dangerous‚ especially Ireland."
Ireland, currently the No 1-ranked side on the World Rugby rankings, are coached by New Zealander Joe Schmidt and they have notched wins over the Springboks and All Blacks in recent years.
"We've seen what Ireland have done in the past two years. They are the No 1 team, even though they haven't shown the same form in the past year.
"You never know though, as they could peak at the right time. Their coach Joe Schmidt is a clever guy. He's got an experienced squad that can beat any team. They're going to be a dangerous side.
"He's got an experienced one that can beat any team. They've also beaten everyone recently so they're going to be a dangerous side," Matfield, who played 127 Tests between 2001 and 2015, added.
The Springboks and All Blacks are paired together in Pool B alongside Italy, Canada and Namibia.
The winner of the South Africa-New Zealand match will likely finish second in the pool which could mean a possible quarter-final date with Ireland.
Ireland are in Pool A alongside Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa and if Schmidt's charges win the pool - as expected - they will likely face the loser of the Springboks-All Blacks match in the quarter-finals.
Compiled by Herman Mostert