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Rugby World Cup: O’Connell backs Ireland to deliver

Paul O'Connell believes the bitterly disappointing build-up to the World Cup could yet prove critical in Ireland's development.

The Irish slumped to their fourth successive defeat of the month with Saturday's 20-9 thrashing by England at Aviva Stadium, revenge for their Grand Slam defeat in March.

But O'Connell insists recent events could yet prove a turning point.

"Absolutely we can turn this around," he said.

"It's been a disappointing four weeks but we're confident that when we get to New Zealand we'll be able to perform.

"We have an excellent squad and excellent players, there's no denying that.

"We may not have produced our best form over the last few weeks but I've no doubt we can perform in New Zealand.”

Leinster flanker Shane Jennings will depart with the squad to New Zealand tomorrow after David Wallace was ruled out of the World Cup with a serious knee injury.

The disturbing casualty rate from Saturday's match continued with Cian Healy, whose own departure has been delayed by four days because of damage to his eye socket.

Healy is now a doubt for the World Cup opener against the United States on September 11, as must be Jamie Heaslip who was concussed against England.

The fitness of Jerry Flannery (shin) and Stephen Ferris (hand) is also being monitored, while Brian O'Driscoll (stinger) and Sean O'Brien (knee) could yet miss the start of the tournament.

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