Italy coach Nick Mallett backed the Irish to go all the way to the Rugby World Cup final after his team were beaten by Ireland in their final pool match in Dunedin on Sunday.
"They were outstanding,'' he said afterwards.
"They've got a team who can knock over anyone in that side of the draw in the quarters and the semis.
''I don't think any team can be confident against them," Mallett. "Where is their weakness?"
Mallett, 54, is now standing down after four years in charge of the Azzurri.
He previously led the Springboks to a winning run of 17 tests and to the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup.
However, he said earlier this week of Italy's achievements:
"We've completely turned around the way other teams think about Italy. They used to be confident enough to put their B team in against us.
"No-one does that against Italy any more."