The last 12 months of Irish rugby has shown just how volatile sport can be, according to Munster icon Alan Quinlan who joined OTB AM on Friday morning.
With the 16-9 win over New Zealand last November, the expectations for Ireland reached a fever pitch. The narrative went that nothing was going to stop Joe Schmidt's men after getting over the All Blacks-sized stumbling block.
“In 2018 we were World Team of The Year, Johnny Sexton was World Player of the Year and Joe Schmidt was Coach of the Year. Celebrating and enjoying that is important.
“I think some people who haven’t got skin in the game, or are involved with their local club went, ‘wow this is great, we’re great, we’re going to win the World Cup.”
“We were never going to win a World Cup on the back of that.
"It was going to be a long road and this 12 months since last November shows how quickly sport can change,” Quinlan said on Friday morning's show.
Seeds of doubt were planted during Ireland’s inconsistent Six Nations campaign in the spring and that hangover followed the team into preparations for Japan.
While there is still some legitimate question about this Ireland team, their gameplan and some of the squad selection choices, Quinlan feels that the overall Irish psyche is beginning to shift from glorious failure to believing Irish teams and athletes can win on the world stage.
“When I started with Munster in 1997 and we were going into the European Cup we thought, ‘Jesus, Declan Kidney said we’re going to win the European Cup. We thought he was crazy.’ We didn’t have that winning mentality.
“And now all our sportspeople feel they can go on the world stage. Whether it’s our boxers, our swimmers, cyclists, the Donovans, any of the athletes competing. We feel we can go and win things.
“The Irish psyche is much better around a winning culture now. I grew up with a psyche where if you played England it’s about keeping the score down.
I like the fact that if you’re a winner, and you win stuff, lets deal with the favourites tag,” he explained.
Coming into the Rugby World Cup, the record defeat to England is hard to shake off in the eyes of rival nations. Perhaps being written off by other countries, and slipping back into a more familiar role, will ultimately benefit Ireland in Japan.
“We’re in a position now where the expectations are much lower and we’ve got to deal with that underdog's tag.
The New Zealand press are totally writing us off. We’ve hit a brick wall, I just hope that little seed of doubt doesn’t crop up again,” Quinlan said.