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Irish team best ever at World Cup: Henderson

By Jonathan Bradley

Iain Henderson has hailed Joe Schmidt's World Cup squad as the best Ireland have ever brought to the tournament.

They meet France at Millennium Stadium on Sunday with the winners set to top Pool D and likely ensure they avoid facing the All Blacks in the quarter-finals next weekend.

While noting that Les Bleus have a habit of peaking just in time for World Cup competition, the 23-year-old Ulsterman insists that Ireland have nothing to fear.

"We've seen before the French are a force to be reckoned with at World Cups, turning over teams like New Zealand and other teams of note," he said.

"There's no reason why they can't put up a performance like that against us.

"However, I think we're more than likely the best Ireland team to ever compete in a World Cup and I think if we get all our stuff right, if we get our set piece right and some good counter-attack, then I don't see any reason why we can't turn them over."

While Henderson's Ulster teammate Jared Payne had been struggling with a bruised foot, all 31 of Schmidt's squad trained fully at Newport High School yesterday and the coach should have a full panel to choose from.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby said: "We have been very fortunate that we haven't had to call for any back-up yet unlike some teams and to be able to get everyone out on the pitch today is very important."

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