When Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was asked after his side's victory against the All Blacks last November whether he felt they were now World Cup favourites, he couldn't hide his surprise that anyone would actually think that.

He just laughed and pointed out that the World Cup was 11 months away which he suggested was ample time for things to radically change.

Schmidt was right to be dismissive as four months after Ireland were hailed World Cup favourites they were systematically ripped apart by England then slowly crushed by Wales and their unexpectedly rapid fall from grace illustrates just