4 Dec, 10:19
Grand Slam winners Fiona Coghlan and Nora Stapelton have returned the Women's RBS 6 Nations trophy to Chief Executive John Feehan at the Six Nations offices in Dublin.
If Kelly is feeling hard done by he has the consolation that he is giving way in order to accommodate a player who was an outstanding Lion during the summer, while Horgan had occupied the wing berth until injury intervened. The question of Henderson's fitness and indeed that of captain Keith Wood was addressed by O'Sullivan when he said . " Well they certainly haven't had as many games under their belt as we would like. They've both been out, their season's fractured by injury but at the same time both came through games at the weekend, played very well and have trained flat out with us this week so, all in all, we're reasonably happy.
The fact that the French have made just one change - Pieter de Villiers - came as no surprise to the Irish coach. No, not surprised. He's a world class player so it would make sense to put him in the team. It certainly strengthens their side up, not that it needs strengthening but it's a formidable side they have now, at home in the last game of the championship. I think France have got better as the championship progressed which is an ominous sign for everybody. They're playing a good brand of rugby from a number of perspectives. Their defence has tightened up immeasurably, they're a much tougher outfit to crack now, they're getting close to the standard that England defend to so it's very hard to break them down. Then, with the ball in hand they have a fairly good structure to their game. They're able to move the ball all over the park and get support to the ball and of course the icing on the cake is what we're seeing again and that's a bit of French flair. In Galthie they have a world class scrumhalf who is on top of his game and you put all that and bake it together and you've got a pretty potent outfit and that's what France have proved to be.
Looking back at the Italian game Ireland O'Sullivan feels his side will need to improver in several areas, We'll have to get our primary phase possession right, get our share of possession. We have to hang onto the ball when we have it and not kick it away, put some phases together without dropping the ball. The amount of ball we put on the ground that day was disappointing. We have to be a lot more clinical and you like to think that if we create opportunities on Saturday that we will execute them.
Looking forward to the French game O'Sullivan said he didn't believe the result would define the season If you told me at the start of the year that we would win our three home matches and play four of our five Six Nations games without our captain I'd have been fairly happy. Now, obviously we're not going to Paris to make up the numbers but I think three home wins has been a good season for us albeit with a fluctuating performance level. It would be very good and important for us to get a good performance on Saturday. We're playing against a very good French team who are going for a grand slam, so I think we've just got to go in there, go at it hammer and tongs for an hour and a half and see what happens.