Danny Cipriani made some eyebrow raising claims a few weeks ago when he said that none of the Australian team would make an English XV. Cue an absolute battering from the Aussies as the hosts made a meek exit from the tournament.
Two weeks later, Cipriani is back, and Ireland are the target of his voodoo. Cipriani has backed Joe Schmidt's men to overcome the loss of Paul O'Connell to win the William Webb Ellis trophy. While Cipriani acknowledges that the loss of O'Connell is massive, the fact that he's staying with the squad will mean a lot:
His leadership and his influence will still be very prevalent. Iain Henderson came on against France and left his mark, so clearly there is a lot of depth to the Irish squad and they have a number of great athletes and top players who can step up when needed.
Which is a fair enough statement. O'Connell's leadership behind the scenes will have an impact - and combined with Iain Henderson's form, Ireland aren't in as bad a position as they could have been a year ago. But then it's when Cipriani takes the piss. With teams like New Zealand and Australia strutting their stuff, and Ireland's history against them - the proclamation that Ireland can win the entire tournament without the likes of O'Connell and O'Mahony only serves to make the nation very nervous:
Undoubtedly you’re going to miss a player of O’Connell’s stature, but the team are still strong enough to still have a chance of winning this World Cup.
Cipriani's last shout went well, let's hope that this doesn't go the same way.
Picture credit; Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE