The Left Wing: Project player debate continues in the centre and why quarter-finals could be the limit again

Before heading off to the Far East on their great Rugby World Cup adventure, the Irish Independent’s Ruaidhri O’Connor and Cian Tracy joined Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery to preview the tournament, give their predictions on how far Ireland will go and who will win it all.

Looking ahead to Ireland’s likely strongest XV, Luke disagrees with the consensus on Bundee Aki getting the nod ahead of Garry Ringrose, saying it’s even worse than the Devin Toner situation.

“They’re going to pick a 16 stone guy who’s a big lump ahead of Garry Ringrose. He shouldn’t be on the team. The guy is a blow-in. It’s going to annoy me watching it. Ringrose is a superstar in the making, he is class and more creative.  Aki is getting away with it and it’s wrong and doesn’t sit well with me. What’s going on here? We’re not picking any of the Irish guys? Ringrose has got the potential to be the next Drico.”

Striking a pessimistic note, none of the panel can see Ireland getting past the quarter-finals either, be it New Zealand or South Africa that we end up facing.

“It would be a close match against New Zealand,” says Luke. “And against South Africa their pack will be an issue for us. South Africa are on form and timing their run well and with a heavy heart I can’t see us beating them.”

“What would be worse though,” says Ruaidhri O’Connor. “Is if we beat New Zealand in the quarter-finals, we all lose our minds and then lose to Wales in the semi.”

That or Eddie Jones and England winning the World Cup.

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