Seebelow for quotes from Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan from Tuesday'steam announcement press conference at the Killiney Castle Hotel.
- ON HIS TEAM SELECTION -
"Asusual the back and second rows were the most difficult areas ofdiscussion. Other than that, it was pretty straightforward so it wasn'tthe toughest selection meeting we've had.
"But there are quite a few guys on the bench who could have started. In general we've selected on form. Girvan Dempsey has been playing well for Leinster and scored a few tries in the Heineken Cup during the opening rounds.
"Geordan (Murphy) has been playing on the wing for Leicester and Girvan just shaded it on form.
"Leaving out Simon Easterby was the most difficult decision. I'm a fan of his. He's always been close to or in the team and it was a very tough call.
"But if you look at form, Neil (Best) has been playing very well for Ulster. It was a toss of the coin between the two of them."
- ON RONAN O'GARA'S BACK-UP AT NUMBER 10 -
"We took Jeremy Staunton onthe summer tour to New Zealand and Australia and sent Paddy (Wallace)to the Churchill Cup. The only anomaly is the situation is Paddy hasbeen playing at number 12 for Ulster, but his main position isout-half. He's played most of his rugby there.
"Thepositions are not a million miles away from each other anyway so I'mnot that concerned that he's playing most of his rugby at 12. If youlook at form he's just edge out Jeremy.
"Butthat's not cut in stone - it's subject to change. We do need to find asecond number 10 in the next year, or even sooner than that. They twoguys left jockeying for that position at Paddy and Jeremy.
"I'llkeep an open mind but Paddy has edged ahead. That's based on form. It'snip and tick between the two of them. We all know that Ronan O'Gara will start in the number 10 jersey."
- ON THE SELECTION OF NEIL BEST OVER SIMON EASTERBY -
"Itwas probably my most difficult decision. You can see from pastselections that I'm a big fan of Simon Easterby. I selected him on theIrish Under-21 team back in 1996 and he's always been someone that'sbeen either near the team or in the team so it was a very toughdecision to make. It was a toss of a coin between the two recently.
"Simoncaptained the team at this time last year, but I think if you look atthe form, Neil did very well on the summer tour and he's continued thatform this season.
"Whenit comes down to a very tight call, the guy who's holding the positionwill probably get the nod, and I think that's the fairest way to do it."
- ON SOUTH AFRICA -
"South Africa will have a very big, physical pack, ateam that will want to play in their traditional fashion. They will behard to contain on the gaine line because of that physicality and theycan be expected to have pace out wide.
"Theywill also pose a danger to us because there are some new players. Insome ways, it's better to be playing against guys you know than guysyou don't know.
"I don't expect any favourites here - I expect it to be a full metal jacket affair on Saturday."
- ON SCRUMMAGING -
"Thescrum has been problematic for a while. When you hit the other guy youhave to drive his head down into his spine as far as you can and winthat collision. That has precipitated the teams picking very big props,engaging from as far away as possible and then charging in like theLight Brigade - if you can get away with it.
"The scrum now is basically won andlost on the hit. If you get a big hit on the opposition you won't havemuch problem winning the scrum.
"It's changed the scrum as we know it. I don't think it's a good thing.There was a time when wily, small, smart props would do very well atthe highest level because they could scrummage.
"I don't think it's possible for players like that to thrive any more.The scrum is in transition and has been for a while. The scrum wasn'tdesigned to become a collision but that's what it is now.
"If you were a parent you wouldn't encourage your child to be a frontrow player for that reason. Most mothers would worry if their sonarrived home and said he was the new tighthead in the team."
- ON THE IRELAND 'A' TEAM SELECTION -
"Ifwe're sticking to the principal of picking the guys on form, then theyonly way to judge form is to select the guys who are playing. All theplayers know that if they fail to make their provincial team, then theyare at risk of not being selected.
"There were some very tight calls, and Mick O'Driscoll wasa case in point, but you've got to go with the guys who are making itout there on the field. He hasn't done anything wrong and it was a verytight call."
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