Ulster winger Andrew Trimble believes Ireland's thrilling finish to Saturday's 43-31 RBS 6 Nations Championship defeat by France indicates their huge potential.
The Irish trailed 43-3 in the 59th minute but tries from Ronan O'Gara, Gordon D'Arcy, Donncha O'Callaghan and Trimble gave Bernard Laporte's side an almighty fright.
"We knew how France were going to play but we made a couple of mistake and things got away from us. They scored a lot of their points in the first half,'' he said.
"But things began to go our way in the second half when we scored 28 points. If we can put that last 20 minutes together for a whole game it would be interesting to see what happens.''
One of the greatest comebacks in rugby history looked a possibility when Trimble crossed for Ireland's fourth touchdown in the 74th minute.
France's flurry of substitutions added to some complacency allowed the Irish back into the game and with self belief growing, the visitors looked capable of adding the two converted tries needed for victory.
But Les Bleus rallied and defended their line resolutely in the closing stages, leaving Trimble to reflect on what might have been.
"We felt we had a chance of winning. We showed a lot of character to come back like that. It showed what we are capable of,'' said Trimble.
"We played good rugby for 80 minutes but made mistakes which were punished. In the second half we didn't make the same mistakes.
"Perhaps the game was there for the taking. One more try and they would have cracked. All we can do is play as well as we can.''
As head coach Stuart Lancaster polishes the axe he will soon wield over his World Cup training squad, Exeter Chiefs coach Rob Baxter has backed Jack Nowell, Henry Slade and Luke Cowan-Dickie to be given a stay of execution.
Italy Under-20s held off a late Samoa blitz to retain their place in the World Rugby U20 Championship on Saturday and head coach Alessandro Troncon believes the experience will have served as a valuable lesson for his young troops.