Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

RBS 6 Nations: We can launch a World Cup assault, says Cian Healy

Cian Healy says Ireland can continue to improve

By deployment of logical deduction, Leinster and Lions loose-head Cian Healy reckons that Ireland could win the England-hosted World Cup in 2015.

Back in November they led New Zealand by five points on the 80 minutes mark, only to be denied by a converted try in the final play.

With Joe Schmidt's side having just emerged on the top rung of northern hemisphere rugby's six-rung ladder, the fight for the William Webb Ellis trophy, currently held by the All Blacks, is little over a year and a half away.

In the interim, Ireland's Kiwi coach will have time to continue working to improve a squad he has already transformed. This time a year back they finished second-bottom of the Six Nations.

"It's a strong, focused team and there are a lot of players hanging in there that are ready to go and to start moving forward and really putting Ireland as one of the dominant forces in world rugby," Healy said.

When the fact that the 2015 World Cup is to be played on Ireland's doorstep was mentioned, initially the prop was coy.

"There's a lot of rugby to be played before the World Cup," he pointed out.

But is it possible for a northern hemisphere side to win it? That question saw him answer: "Of course it is – there's no reason for it to not be.

"We've been playing good rugby, England have been playing good rugby, France have been playing good rugby. So there will be a lot of contenders coming in from the northern hemisphere in that. But that's a long way to go yet."

But the Six Nations champions could win the next World Cup given that it is being played north of the equator. Right?

"Of course they could, yeah," Healy replied. "Of course we can.

"We've had one autumn and one Six Nations under Joe and as a unit we're still learning. To come in as a new unit and still be progressive and still learning new things, so there's a lot of space for us to move forward."

Highlighting the understated role forwards coach John Plumtree has played in Ireland's development, Healy said: "He has installed an awful lot of confidence in the pack. Between himself and Greg Feek (scrum guru) they have told us what we can do.

"Something like today is quite satisfactory when you get to go to them after and shake their hand and know you have done well."

With Ireland having substituted their entire front row – Healy, Mike Ross and Rory Best – the number one admitted he couldn't watch when France thought they had scored a 79th minute try, only to be thwarted by Welsh TMO Gareth Simmonds' correct verdict that the final pass was forward.

"I couldn't – I had to rely on Besty's commentary. I couldn't look up, I couldn't watch it," he said.

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