O'Connell captained the British & Lions on their 2009 tour to South Africa
While New Zealand might be favourites heading into next year's World Cup, Ireland skipper Paul O'Connell believes his side have every chance of lifting the game's biggest prize.
After being crowned the best in the northern hemisphere earlier in the year and ending 2014 on a high with victories over South Africa, Georgia and Australia, O'Connell is confident in Ireland's ability to produce the goods.
However O'Connell, a veteran of three British & Irish Lions tours, including the successful series in Australia in the summer of 2013, isn't getting carried away and knows that there will need to be improvements if Ireland are going to have a stellar 2015.
"It has been a very important year and I think we have made a lot of progress and hopefully we can really kick on from here," said O'Connell. "We certainly have a chance. We have shown that we can beat anyone on our day.
"We still don't have the strength in depth of the southern hemisphere nations so there are certain things that will have to go our way - but I think we have the potential to win a World Cup.
"I think we have made really good progress and I think we have put a great foundation in place. But there is not one Six Nations team who have not got better - if they all get better and we don't then we will go backwards."