James Lowe insisted in-form Ireland are far from “invincible” as he dismissed the notion complacency could derail their Rugby World Cup dream.
Andy Farrell’s side have swept all before them during a 15-month stay at the top of the Test rankings which has brought 16 consecutive victories.
Ireland are on the cusp of the quarter-finals in France but could still be on an early flight home as they prepare to put their impressive winning streak on the line in Saturday evening’s pivotal Pool B finale against rivals Scotland.
The Six Nations Grand Slam champions must prevent defeat by eight points or more in Paris to secure a knockout spot, otherwise their fate will be reliant on bonus points or head-to-head results.
Leinster wing Lowe, who has already helped Ireland overcome Romania, Tonga and South Africa, is taking nothing for granted.
“Obviously it does give us confidence in what we’ve done over the last three to four years in terms of what we’ve built,” said the 31-year-old.
“We know what works but even in wins there’s still things to learn. Invincible? I wouldn’t go anywhere near that word. Complacency is something that can’t creep into this group as well and it doesn’t.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) October 6, 2023
“We understand the serious threats and we’ve respected every opposition that we’ve played so far in this competition. We’re just as diligent with Scotland as we were with South Africa, Romania, and Tonga.”
Farrell’s men are essentially playing knockout rugby as they bid to confirm a likely last-eight clash with New Zealand.
Ireland have won the last eight meetings with Scotland and not lost to them by at least eight points since a 31-21 warm-up defeat before the last World Cup to be staged in France, way back in 2007.
“Look, Scotland are an amazing team who have definitely pushed us,” said New Zealand-born Lowe.
Saturday 7th October. Stade de France.
— Rugby World Cup (@rugbyworldcup) October 5, 2023
“I know we’ve probably had the better end of the stick in the last few encounters.
“They’re a team that play with a lot of passion, width and physicality. You respect them because you really, really don’t want to lose. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
The build-up to the crunch clash has come amid a bedbug outbreak across Paris and other French cities.
Ireland have so far been unaffected, with scrum coach John Fogarty joking that certain members of the squad have a built-in repellent.
“Some of the lads fumigate their beds naturally, so there’s no issue,” he said. “Some of the front five, it’s not a problem!
“(I) haven’t come across one (bedbug) really. We have been so lucky with where we’ve stayed and how well we have been looked after here in France. I haven’t heard of any issues so far.”
Ireland had their captain’s run at Stade de France on Friday morning.
Injured centre Robbie Henshaw, who is expected to be sidelined until at least the semi-final stage due to a hamstring issue, was involved, albeit he was restricted to light jogging away from the other 32 players.
“He’s good, as you saw, he’s out running so he’ll be assessed as we go along and we’ll see after the weekend how he pitches up next week,” said Fogarty.