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Schmidt's men can match the best: Crowley

By Nick Purewal

Canada boss Kieran Crowley has labelled Pool D rivals Ireland one of the favourites for World Cup glory.

Kiwi coach Crowley hailed compatriot Joe Schmidt for transforming Ireland into genuine World Cup contenders in the last two years.

Ireland will start their World Cup campaign by facing Canada in Cardiff on Saturday week, with Crowley accepting his side face a daunting opening clash.

Canada were overwhelmed by Fiji 47-18 at The Stoop in their final World Cup warm-up game, leaving Crowley targeting extra precision.

"They are one of the best in the world and one of the favourites for the cup," said Crowley, despite Ireland never having reached a World Cup semi-final.

"They will probably feel they were a bit off yesterday, but they bring a clinical game.

"They have a great kicking game, use players in those inside channels and can attack you out wide too. They are pretty complete when you look at them.

"You're playing against some pretty good players, that's the challenge we've got."

Former New Zealand full-back and 1987 World Cup winner Crowley locked horns with Schmidt as Taranaki boss when the Ireland coach marshalled Bay of Plenty.

Crowley believes New Zealanders' ingrained love of rugby as a way of life plays a part in the army of Kiwi coaches excelling around the world.

"I've coached against Joe a couple of times back in New Zealand and he's done wonders everywhere he's been so he deserves all the credit he's getting," said Crowley.

"I think the southern hemisphere has more of a rounded game, they try to move the ball a little more. Rugby's an entertainment sport to me now, okay you've got to try to win but it's also about getting the players the opportunity to play.

"So I don't know whether it's that alone or also whether people look at what makes the All Blacks better when they are top of the tree."

A Noa Nakaitaci try denied Scotland their first win in Paris in 16 years in the teams' final World Cup warm-up.

Greig Laidlaw kicked the visitors to a half-time lead after Wesley Fofana had a try disallowed for a forward pass. Scott Spedding's long-range kick edged France ahead but Tommy Seymour's pace got him on the end of Laidlaw's chip to cross the line. France fought back and after David Denton was sin-binned, Nakaitaci won it.

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