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Ireland flanker Peter O’Mahony admits that the squad are closely watching how the other contenders are faring in the run-up to the World Cup.
The Munster captain, who has been a crucial figure in the national team’s success in recent years, admits that he and his team-mates have been keeping an eye on the Rugby Championship and other games that potential World Cup opposition have been involved in.
"I've kept an eye on most of those games," he admits. "It's no shock really, how competitive they all are now all of a sudden, when it's coming into the World Cup. Rassie (Erasmus) has done a great job with South Africa. There were some seriously impressive performances from them.
"Obviously the All Blacks are the All Blacks, and you saw how dangerous Australia were against them, you know 47 points scored. So, it's going to be unbelievably competitive whoever gets to go and compete. You'd be hard pushed to put your name on a team that would be an out-and-out favourite at the moment."
Following their 29-10 victory over Italy at the weekend, Ireland face England at Twickenham on Saturday week followed by back-to-back games against Grand Slam winners Wales and O’Mahony believes these games will ensure that the squad are fully prepared for the World Cup which starts on September 20th.
"Yeah look, obviously we played Italy at the weekend, we now have England and Wales-Wales, it's not like we're going in with three or four handy ones," he said.
"I thought Italy were quality at the weekend and we're going into arguably two of the teams who are going to be competing for this competition (World Cup).
“They're going to be solely our focus now because if you look past either one of them, you're staring down the barrel of 40-50 points - they are that good.
"Obviously Wales are Grand Slam champions. They had the chance to go to number one, best team in the world, and England - you saw the squad they picked, they're a seriously impressive side.
"I've heard a bit of this rumour that we'll be undercooked, but they're three serious games that we have coming up.
"There certainly won't have been a rock unturned. They've gone through everything with a fine tooth comb to try and get us as well prepared as possible. It's certainly going to be more difficult.
"You just have to grin and bear it and get on with it, but they're certainly putting as many factors as possible in to get us right for it."
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