Not content with just the prospect of playing in his first Rugby World Cup, hooker Jerry Flannery has echoed the thoughts of his Ireland team-mates by proclaiming that the current Irish side is good enough to go all the way and finish top of the pile in France.
Ireland’s top players have gotten used to that winning feeling in recent seasons, both at provincial and international levels, and Flannery does not see why that should change when Eddie O’Sullivan’s men take on the cream of world rugby this autumn.
“Your ambition has to be to win it. We’ve got a good enough squad of players to win a World Cup,” admitted Flannery who has played in six of Ireland’s last seven games after bouncing back from the shoulder operation he had this time last year.
“It’ll be a long enough trip, but having a bit of luck and staying clear of injuries, our progress won’t be for lack of trying nor for lack of ambition. We’re not going out there thinking: ‘we’ve got to get to a semi-final to be happy.’ The ambition is to win it.”
The Limerick man started the recent summer tour’s first Test against Argentina, after five appearances as a replacement in the Six Nations. The game against the Pumas helped Flannery rekindle some of the form which saw him make the hooker position his own during the 2006 Six Nations.
Now rid of a minor knee injury which he sustained during a stint with the Irish squad in Spala, Poland, the 28-year-old is ready to scrap for a starting place in Ireland’s World Cup team.
“When I came back training this summer with Munster, I pinched the cartilage in my right knee, and it was just niggling me for a couple of weeks,” he explained.
“Then when I went over to Spala, on the first day I was holding a bag and I got hit and there was a little tear on the cartilage. I flew home that week, got an operation but somehow a rumour started in Limerick that I tore my cruciate ligament, and that I was out for the next six months. The knee is fine now though, I’ve been back running for the last week now.”