Former Ulster and Ireland wing Keith Crossan believes Eddie O'Sullivan's men can cause a World Cup shock by defeating host nation France in their crunch pool showdown in Paris.
France kick-off the tournament with a heavyweight clash against Argentina at the Stade de France in Paris tomorrow night.
Bernard Laporte's side are tipped by many to give hot favourites New Zealand a real run for their money in the battle for the Webb Ellis trophy having defeated England home and away during their warm-up matches as well as trouncing Wales in Cardiff.
But Crossan, a veteran of the 1987 and 1991 World Cups as well as a Triple Crown winner in 1982 and 1985, remains upbeat about Ireland's chances despite their stuttering warm-up displays against Scotland, Bayonne and Italy last month.
And he feels there will be nothing between the two sides when Ireland travel to Paris to take on the hosts on September 21.
"The French game is going to be really interesting," said Crossan, who won scored 12 tries for Ireland in 41 caps. "They are starting to play really, really well and have got their timing right.
"And certainly from my recollections of them in the 1980s, they love to show off at home.
"But we have done remarkably well against them in recent years and I think they will be very wary of Ireland.
"I have heard that Ireland have been holding back all their moves and plays for the World Cup.
"Obviously Brian O'Driscoll makes a huge difference to them and if they can get big Shane Horgan back as well, they can get some go-forward ball.
"Peter Stringer remains one of the best scrum-halves at moving the ball away to the backline to give them an extra second and if they can get that going I can see Ireland going very well.
Crossan added: "The first couple of games (against Namibia and Georgia) will be regarded as the easy games and Argentina are a good team but I think they are quite limited.
"They are big and they are strong but a bit one-dimensional. If you can get the ball away from them and be a bit more cute, then we have a lot more in the backline.
"I think there will be more teams out there worried about Ireland than the other way round."