23 May, 12:21
The Irish Rugby Supporters Club is delighted to announce that tickets for the GUINNESS Series 2013 will go on sale on ticketmaster.ie at 10am on Thursday, May 30.
Having returned to the same Central Coast Grammar School on the outskirts of their base camp at Terrigal where they were drenched in rain the previous day, the relieved Irish party got a first glimpse of what they hoped their adventure Down Under would be when the blazing sunshine illuminated a clear blue sky and the temperature ran up to 25 degrees.
Mind you, as if to remind us that the Aussie summer has still not quite arrived, the weather clerk, who can act as fickle out here as in Ireland, turned nasty in the afternoon when the crowded beaches were scattered by a cloudburst that enduring into the darkening evening. By then however the Irish players were working indoor in the local gym.
The weather change in the morning was welcome and we got a very good session. It was quite physical when it needed to be and the boys showed a surprising enthusiasm considering they are still jet lagged said the coach in high praise as the party headed into their first full day in Australia.
O'Sullivan says he is further fortified in the knowledge that there is a great buzz in the camp at the moment. It was evident in our training at home before we departed following our three World Cup warm up games and the question was could we bring it with us to Australia. Well we have brought that energy and intensity with us and that is a good sign.
Ireland play the first of their four Pool A games in nearby Gosford on Saturday week against Romania. That pipe-opener and the following Test against Namibia in Sydney a week later is reckoned to provide Ireland with an easy entry to tougher following games against Argentina and champions Australia. O'Sullivan drew on a horse racing analogy to rebuke suggestions that Ireland might make light of those early ties. "We have four hurdles to jump to get to the quarter finals and if we are thinking of the third hurdle before we jump the first we are likely to fall on our faces". It is a good analogy and we will be giving every game our full attention he said to knock on the head any perception that the Irish might fail to give the early games due recognition.
As regards Romania, the Irish coach said they have become stronger by the fact that so many of their players now operate out of France. They play a French style and are very adept at off loading in the tackle. Romania are a well able to put together a strong side and if you get your game plan wrong against them, you could be in trouble.
The adroit O'Sullivan also revealed that we have done our research on Namibia and paid them due regards for their recent strong performances against Samoa and South Africa A.
In revealing and loquacious mood to the delight of the local Central Coast media, O'Sullivan then heaped special praise on key players Keith Wood and Brian O'Driscoll who are commanding most attention here on account of their reputations from the Lions tour of two years ago.
Of Wood's influence, the coach said: "It is great to have him back after injury he has missed about 20 Tests for us. Most people had written him off. But a testament to the guy is that he never gave up hope. He is retiring after the World Cup and I know he wants to give it his best shot and go out as high as he can in the game and everybody knows in the game he is a pretty special player. Not just for what he can do on the field, but also off it he is a very good leader and he has that respect in the squad. He is a very important person in our whole machine".
Of star midfield performer O'Driscoll, coach O'Sullivan said: "I think everybody around the world respects him as an incredible game breaker with ball in hand. I think in recent times his game has rounded out and he is putting other people into space. This is the perfect foil if people close him down. It is something he has been working on. He's still very young at 24. He has captained his country, he has a Lions tour under his belt, he's very young, but he is mature in terms of rugby. I think he has a phenomenal career in front of him. All that makes him very interesting to look and watch. I think the attraction is to see Brian O'Driscoll in action. He is a pressure player. He does deliver under pressure which makes him pretty special".