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Sunday 11 December 2016

Shane Horgan: England need a win more than Ireland in final World Cup friendly

Ireland's standards will be higher in Twickenham tie

Joe Schmidt, pictured, has Ireland better equipped than ever for World Cup success, according to Shane Horgan
Joe Schmidt, pictured, has Ireland better equipped than ever for World Cup success, according to Shane Horgan

Former Ireland wing Shane Horgan believes England's need will be greater than Ireland's at Twickenham.

And that could make all the difference.

"It's probably more important for England to win it because it is a home game," he said.

There are those who have dismissed losing two on the bounce as irrelevant to what will happen in the World Cup.

Horgan is not quite one of them. "It is not ideal," he offered.

"You don't want to be losing your last two games going into a World Cup.

"At the same time, what we saw from the performance against Wales was a lot of guys playing like it was their first proper hit out of the season.

"I would imagine the standard will be better this week.

"If the standard and the performance is better, it wouldn't be the end of the world if Ireland don't win."

Horgan, a real student of the game, as a Sky Sports pundit, holds the opinion that Ireland are more inconvenienced than most by these warm-up matches because coach Joe Schmidt is unlikely to show what he has up his sleeve.

"The sort of rugby we're going to see, nobody is going to be showing their hand," he said.

"When Ireland limit themselves in their game plan, like we saw against Wales, where we didn't see many complex moves off set-piece, they find it more difficult to deal with opposition that are very big and powerful.

quality

"As long as Ireland don't play their full hand against these quality teams, it is difficult to beat them by just out-powering them because we don't have that sort of make-up.

"Yeah, we have good strong players. But so do other teams. Our qualities are a little bit more refined and they lie elsewhere."

The game changes quickly. Group opponents France looked leaner and meaner against England than they have done for years.

Possible quarter-final opponents Argentina beat South Africa away for the first time and in The Rugby Championship.

"The expectations remain the same," he added.

"To get out of our group, I don't think that's going to be a concern at all.

"It will be more difficult to get out of it in first place. But I am confident it is doable.

"If you factor in the evidence over the last couple of years, the likelihood is that we should beat France, although they will perhaps be a different proposition at this World Cup than they have been.

"Ultimately, our skill level should get us out in front," he stated.

"Then, you have a huge opportunity to get through a quarter-final against Argentina and into the semis."

"What has happened over the last couple of months has shown this easy path to the semi-final isn't going to be as easy as we thought.

"The French look rejuvenated. The Argentineans have beaten South Africa."

There is no easy way to break with history and make a first semi-final.

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