Brian O'Driscoll reacted to Ireland's 2015 World Cup collision course with France and Italy by highlighting the threat that awaits from the southern hemisphere giants in the knockout stages.
The three heavyweights of Pool D are supplied by the RBS 6 Nations, with the USA or Canada and one of Georgia, Russia, Romania, Spain and Portugal completing the group. Each side will be desperate to finish top and thus avoid favourites New Zealand in the quarter-finals, with Argentina the likely opposition for the winners.
"It could have been worse. You're never going to lick your lips at a World Cup draw because you'll always have good quality opposition," the Ireland skipper said. "It's bit of a double-edged sword because when you avoid New Zealand, South Africa or Australia, inevitably when you get to the knockout stages you're likely face one of them sooner rather than later."
He added: "It's an okay draw but I'd imagine France and Italy are quietly happy they've drawn us. They'll think they can beat us. It leaves it quite open because all three are capable of beating one another. It should make for interesting viewing."
Ireland have a dreadful record against France, winning just one of 13 meetings since 2003, a run that includes two defeats at the World Cup - in 2003 and 2007.
It will be the pivotal match in the group and O'Driscoll admits Les Bleus have a psychological edge in the fixture.
"Early in my career we managed to get a few victories against France and then all of a sudden they became a very difficult team for us to beat," he said.
"They play with a lot of confidence against us because of that record. When things are going well maybe they think they'll be able to see the game through, and that's how things have panned out over the last while.
"But if we play well we can definitely beat them. You need to think you're capable of beating anyone on your day."
O'Driscoll will be 36 when the next World Cup begins and accepts his involvement in England in three years' time is unlikely, saying: "I'll be there in some capacity, but as a player I doubt that very much. It's far too far away to be contemplating playing."
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