HARD-HITTING Australian World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer is backing Ireland to reach the World Cup semi-finals this weekend.
Dwyer, who coached Australia to their first ever Rugby World Cup triumph back in 1991, says that he expects Ireland to get the better of Wales in their quarter-final clash in Wellington this weekend.
"Ireland continue to improve" he said. "I, unlike many others, was not super impressed with their performance against Australia.
"But they were great in a difficult match against a committed Italy.
"Ronan O'Gara looked a different attacking player in that match last weekend. So Alan Gaffney, Ireland's backs coach, should take a bow.
"In my view, Wales look a complete team but I think that Ireland will prevail."
Dwyer has also blasted a warning to the South Africans, four days ahead of their crunch quarter-final clash with the Wallabies, also in Wellington.
Dwyer had warnings for Peter de Villiers' men. 'The tough stuff only starts here' was the gist of his message.
Dwyer will be in Wellington this weekend to see if his countrymen can get past the defending champions.
And he believes the Wallabies are in with a real fighting chance.
"Why not? Of course we are still in with a chance" he said. But he also revealed what he regards as the weakness of this present Australian team.
"We are a bit hit-or-miss, in fact a big hit-or-miss, maybe sometimes more miss than hit. But if we hit, we are very good and then we are hard to beat. Let's not forget World Cups are all about hitting at the right time.
"Psychologically we have shown at times that we can be up for it and surely we will be up for this. Technically, we still have a long way to go but we gave some indication against Russia that we could improve still further. Forget the standard of the opposition, accurate execution is entirely in our hands."
Dwyer proposed some dramatic team selections for the Springboks showdown. "I would switch the captaincy to Will Genia, drop Quade Cooper to the bench to be replaced by Berrick Barnes and pair Rob Horne with Adam Ashley-Cooper at centre," he said.