Ireland 'have team to beat Wallabies'
IRELAND may have made a faltering start to the World Cup but manager Paul McNaughton insists they still have the capacity to stun Australia.
None of the concerns that hang over the Irish squad following a troubled build-up to New Zealand were addressed during yesterday's poor 22-10 win over the United States.
Their Pool C campaign continues with Saturday's critical Test against Tri-Nations champions Australia at Eden Park.
On current form, it is a clash they have little chance of winning, but McNaughton believes that if they click, Ireland can topple the Wallabies.
"The guys have played against Australia before. They know them," he said.
"There's a level of confidence that, on our day, when we play well and fire on all cylinders, we can beat Australia.
"We have the ability and the team to beat Australia.
"We have to play well and better than we have done over the last four or five matches.
"We'll have to improve on what we did yesterday, but do seem to produce our best when our backs are against the wall.
"Underdogs is not a position we'd go looking for. We're clearly underdogs based on the record over the last few games, but that doesn't worry us.
"But there's a strong belief that if we get all parts of our game right, we can provide fine opposition for Australia."
There was a sense of deflation at Stadium Taranaki as Ireland failed to produce the emphatic start to the tournament they needed.
Conditions were poor and the USA were charged by the 10th anniversary of September 11, but they should still have been dispatched with greater conviction.
"We've all had a chance to reflect and watch the performance," said McNaughton.
"We were disappointed not to get the bonus point and execute a few more try opportunities than we had. We're happy with the win."
Prop Tony Buckley was due to undergo a scan this afternoon on the shoulder injury he sustained in New Plymouth.