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Former Ireland fly-half Tony Ward says coach Joe Schmidt has assembled the “strongest Irish squad ever to go to a World Cup” for the tournament in Japan.
Ireland will bid to progress beyond the quarter-finals for the first time.
“There is no question this is a much stronger squad than in 2015 with real quality cover in every position,” said Ward.
“When Joe names his 23, the eight in reserve are almost all impact players who can make a difference.”
He added: “There are grounds for optimism.”
Ireland fell to Argentina at the last-eight stage of the 2015 World Cup after a number of key players were ruled out by injuries during the competition.
Since then Schmidt has set about increasing the depth of his squad and when his 31-man panel was announced last Monday, long-serving second row Devin Toner was among a number of big names missing.
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A comprehensive defeat by England in a World Cup warm-up game on 24 August was followed up by back-to-back preparation victories over Grand Slam Six Nations champions Wales in Cardiff and Dublin over the last two weeks.
“I think we are in a good place now despite what happened at Twickenham a fortnight ago,” 19-times capped Ireland international Ward told BBC Radio Ulster.
“That dampened public expectation but the appetite has been whette
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