Brian O'Driscoll feels that Garry Ringrose will be on the outside looking in come Ireland's first game of the World Cup.
The Leinster man stepped off the bench to replace the injured Keith Earls on the wing at the weekend as Ireland defeated Wales in their final warm-up game. Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki started the game as Ireland's centre partnership. It looks increasingly likely that Ringrose will be the 23rd man in Ireland's matchday squads.
"I thought he'd play at the weekend if he was first choice," O'Driscoll on Monday regarding Ringrose.
"His tackling stats probably don't stack up. He has a lot of misses, but a lot of it is shutting down potential threats and getting the cover to pick up another tackle or finish one off.
"I don't think he's quite at the Garry Ringrose level we've seen over the last couple of years. So he'll be a bit nervous that he'll be on the bench given the partnership Bundee and Robbie have had since down in Connacht.
"They seem to go quite well and have a good understanding, good offloading game to one another, good defensively. So if you were a betting man you'd probably think that might be the starting centre pairing.
"He [Henshaw] doesn't miss many tackles. I don't know his stats, but watching him he doesn't miss many. His scramble is really exceptional.
"Even, you know the try-saving tackle on Dan Biggar. That’s a phenomenal bit of technique as well as the will within him. They are real markers for coaches as well. The never-say-die attitude, coaches love that.
"Having one of your best defenders is a real luxury. I think Garry's a brilliant reader of it, but Robbie's another level of a defender because he has the aggression and the size in the hit to come with that.
"That element of telepathy, I don't know what the chat is like with Garry, but you feel a real cohesion with Bundee and Robbie."
Members of the GUINNESS team joined Brian O’Driscoll to show their support for the Irish rugby team as they depart for Japan ranked number 1 for the first time in history. Photo credit: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
The weekend's win has not changed O'Driscoll's view of Ireland's prospects in Japan.
"It's gonna be a big game against Scotland and Japan. Win those, you're in great shape, then it's a toss of a coin.
"Can you beat New Zealand or South Africa? Is it 50-50 against New Zealand? Probably not. Is it 50-50 against South Africa? Probably closer on the basis of where we've been for four or five years.
"I remain at the same level of confidence. Can we get to a semi-final? Probably. But we could bow out at the quarter-finals just as easily."
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