24 May, 14:08
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.
"We want to make a good start to the tournament. All the players want to get on the pitch and get a hit out. There's no mystery in it. The players are very keen to get started. The warm-up games didn't really have any bearing on the selection. We played our full strength team in one match against Italy. We had some selection issues and a number of players unavailable for Scotland.
"The Italy game was disappointing because we didn't really get into our rhythm or pattern of play as we had in the Six Nations. We put a lot of work into the breakdown. We'll have to play very direct rugby to start with.
"Once we got through all the injury problems it was important to put our best foot forward in the first game. We'll see how this game unfolds before deciding what team will play against Georgia. We don't want to get too far ahead of ourselves.
"We'll be playing a very fired-up Namibia side this weekend. Most of them play their rugby in the Currie Cup so they're a physical outfit. They're particularly strong in the back row and they're very good at the breakdown. The contest for the ball at the breakdown will be very intense.
"Their set piece is very solid. They're a big side and I think it will be a very bruising encounter in the first half. Everyone will want to start the tournament with a good performance under their belts. Our guys are getting to the point of frustration waiting for the tournament to start after a slow build-up. They're keen to get out on the field."
ON POOL D AND POINTS DIFFERENCE:
"Due to the tightness of the group that in the event of ourselves and France and Argentina losing one game each which is a possibility, we could have a situation where points difference determines the group. The expectation is that the two perceived weaker teams in the group create the opportunity to build up a good points difference.
"That may have a say at the end. I remember at the 2003 World Cup when we played Namibia early in the group in Sydney in a lot of rain. We scored a reasonable amount of points but when Australia played them in the dry, they put 142 points on them. That could have been an issue had the pool turned out differently. They are issues that not many other countries have to deal with. But its in the back of our minds that points could decide where we finish in the group."
ON INJURIES AND TRAINING:
"David Wallace has been training since last week and has got through all of the sessions. He's been in good form. He will be short of match practice because he hasn't played. I had every intention of starting him in this game provided he was cleared fit.
"Brian (O'Driscoll) is fine - he's gotten the all clear from the medics. Denis Hickie missed today's session because of a small bout of tonsillitis but I don't think he'll have trouble for Sunday. Shane Horgan is well on track for Georgia."
ON BRIAN O'DRISCOLL'S RETURN FROM INJURY:
"It's always good to get Brian back in the team. He's the talisman of the team. He's very keen himself to get back. It's been a frustrating season for him stretching back to the Six Nations when he got injured and didn't play again. It was quite a bad injury. He came off against Scotland with 20 minutes to go for precautionary reasons.
"Then he got injured in Bayonne so he's had a messy build-up. Ideally he'd have liked to play all the warm-up games. He's looking forward to getting into a game. He's the captain so it's a boost for him to be able to be fit to lead the team out for the first game."
ON DAVID WALLACE'S PROGRESS SINCE THE LAST WORLD CUP:
"David Wallace is a different rugby player to four years ago. We always knew David was an exceptional ball carrier. He has an extraordinary physique for a man of his speed. Men that size don't usually run that fast. He's a unique individual.
"Initially he was played at six or eight. The transition to number seven meant he had to change his view of the game and become good at things he hadn't worked on. They were the things that held him back as other people got ahead of him. He also suffered a string of injuries at key times.
"But to his credit he say down and looked at the areas of his game he needed to work on to make the breakthrough. In the last couple of seasons, he's turned himself into a world class openside. He's matured, going through the injury set backs and waiting in the wings."
ON THE WORLD CUP'S OPENING MATCH BETWEEN FRANCE AND ARGENTINA:
"If Argentina beat France tomorrow, which is a distinct possibility, we know they're capable of it, it would throw the group into turmoil. It could end up a three-way play-off with it being decided by points difference which nobody wants. Argentina have had the edge over France over the last few years and that will worry France a little bit.
"It will be very tight, maybe France to sneak it. That's what most people will be predicting but I expect Argentina will have something to say about it.
"We want to win the pool. Regardless of what happens between France and Argentina we must try and win every game in the pool. That's how we'll set out our stall."