'Tadhg Furlong, this is his World Cup now. This is one he should be delivering on'
Just hook us up to a direct line of Shane Horgan's positivity.
Ireland rugby fans may be looking forward to the 2019 World Cup with less giddy anticipation before the Six Nations - and our chastening losses to England and Wales - but Shane Horgan believes Joe Schmidt's men can go far in Japan.
The former Leinster and Ireland winger, who was joined by Ronan O'Gara at Energia Park (Donnybrook) to launch Energia's 'The Power Behind Positive Energy' campaign, played in two World Cups and, as a pundit, has been following Schmidt's side closely.
Despite playing World Cups in Australia and France, Horgan never played a warm-up game for the tournament in his Test career. Quad and knee injuries left him fearing whether he would ever make it to the big show and he jokes that his reputation may have been boosted had he missed the non-starter 2007 campaign.
Ireland named a 44-man training squad, earlier this summer, and Ulster back Will Addison has been in for training sessions after recovering from his back issues. Horgan feels Schmidt has 85 per cent of his squad already selected but notes that injuries may yet shape his final calls.
Asked to name a couple of Ireland players that can shine on the biggest stage in rugby, Horgan names five and, in the process, ramps up our own excitement for the World Cup. He says:
"Everybody picks these, but Jordan Larmour. He's got a brilliant step. He doesn't lose pace. Listen, he's not the complete player yet but he's so much fun to watch, stepping particularly off his right foot. He doesn’t lose any pace at all and that is something really special.
"Joey Carbery. I don’t know where we can get him in but I’ve seen him play and he excites me every time he gets the ball. His broken field running is excellent and he offers a different way you can play the game. What role they’ll have, if any, who knows. They may start or they may not play, but they are two players I’m excited by.
"Keith Earls, I’m so excited by because he’s just delivered so consistently… not just consistently but consistently at a really high level. When he plays at his best, he looks phenomenal.
"And then you’ve got Jacob Stockdale. I still can’t really analyse Stockdale because he can just deliver, you know? He’s a try machine and he scares me the way he defends sometimes but his attacking game is just ridiculous. If he continues on that, he’s going to be a star of the tournament.
"We’ve got a lot of good players. Like, Tadhg Furlong, this is his World Cup now. This is one he should be delivering on, and he can deliver on. And when we talk about the interplay between forwards and backs, there is a key Individual for you."
"So, we’ve got some really good players," he adds, "and if they can play at their best, and we have the right support around them and tactics, then we’ll go all right."
Japan may be hitting form and possible quarter final opponents South Africa are flexing their muscles again but there are five solid reasons for Ireland rugby supporters be hopeful in the coming months.
- The full Shane Horgan interview will be coming soon on Baz & Andrew's House of Rugby.