10 Dec, 12:23
Ireland's John Lacey will referee his first ever RBS 6 Nations match in February, while Alain Rolland is also included in the Elite Panel in what is his last season.
As his squad moved today (Tuesday, October 21) from the quiet, seaside retreat at Terrigal, to busier Adelaide and then on to bustling Melbourne for tougher games against Argentina and Australia; the Irish coach is fulsome in his admiration for these three particular forces, which he believes are bolstering Ireland's cause.
Of his World Cup captain, Keith Wood, O'Sullivan says,
Keith's a cult figure since the Lions in South Africa (1997) and even before that. He's a one-off guy. They broke the mould with Keith and we're sure glad of it.
There's a certain thing about the image, not just the bald head. But the more important aspect is the way the guy plays. You can't help but be inspired because he plays with reckless abandon and commitment to the nth degree - almost to the detriment of his own health.
When you see someone put their body on the line like he does in our game, you can't help but admire them. That's the real admiration for Keith Wood. The way he delivers under pressure. Everybody aspires to do that but very few can. His leadership qualities are superb. He's very helpful to me.
O'Sullivan is similarly fulsome in his praise for centre Brian O'Driscoll. He's the complete package declares the Irish coach, when he broke on the Irish scene he scored a lot of tries because nobody gave him due respect. Now everyone respects him to the point where they must shut him down. That's great for us because if the opposition want to use two or three to shut him down, we'll push the ball somewhere else and others have been reaping the benefits of closing down O'Driscoll.
He's also doing an incredible amount of work in defence and, for me, he's the complete package. The part of the game that needs to develop to be an all time great is the ability to put others into space and that's working out for him now.
As to the level of support for his World Cup squad, O'Sullivan says:
We heard there was going to be some support for us out here but we've been very taken aback. The locals could hardly credit the atmosphere created by the huge numbers of Irish that watched us in the 20,000 crowd against Romania in Gosford.
35,000, most of whom seemed to be wearing green, watched us play Namibia in the rain in Sydney. I'll tell you now categorically, if we played Namibia at Lansdowne Road we'd be lucky to get 15,000 people there. We have so much indigenous support you can turn it into a home event if you get the right chemistry between the team and the crowd. We will get phenomenal backing in Adelaide and Melbourne and we need to buy into that. If we go into Adelaide and go after Argentina like mad dogs in a meat house, the crowd will be behind us and it will make life a lot easier!.