12 Dec, 14:42
Prop Cian Healy is expected to miss the start of the 2014 RBS 6 Nations after undergoing surgery on his injured ankle on Wednesday.
Speaking to the media at the team hotel yesterday O'Sullivan said, I don't expect these games to be more physical than the Six Nations because I think it's right up there but I do expect the Springboks to be very physical. They always are and they're starting a new regime under a new coach and I think they'll be very fired up.
It's an intimidating place to play and none more than Bloemfontein for the first Test. So I expect it to be quite physical, and we're preparing mentally and physically for that sort of encounter.
O'Sullivan admitted that it had been very difficult to get much information on what is a new look Boks.Yes, we don't know a lot about them. It very difficult to know what they'll do or where they'll go. It's pretty much an open book from our point of view as to how they'll attack and defend. We don't know for sure. We'll just have to keep our options open as well.
But they do seem to be on the up. Their Super 12 sides did very well this year and they seem to have selected the strength of the Super 12 and will probably keep together certain units that played together during the Super 12. They've been in camp for three weeks. So I think they'll be well organised, pretty fired up. I think they'll want a good start to their new regime. They're all things that would go against the notion that they are in disarray or that they're not focussed.
O'Sullivan seems in little doubt, given the location of the first Test, on what sort of game the home side will play.I think they've a strong midfield, They're bringing in Jaco Van Der Westhuizen, from Leicester who is really a ball in hand fly-half, very elusive, great at creating gaps and off-loads.
What seems to me, and this would reflect on their coach Jake White who is a back, is that it will be a running game. And I think he'll pick a side to play a running game. Particularly in Bloemfontein, with hard ground, dry at altitude. The fact that they've gone for altitude means they'll try and use that to their advantage against us. We won't be at altitude up until we get there, the day before the Test. That fact that they've been there for three weeks will have them well settled in and acclimatised. They'll be pretty sure of the conditions. The Cape could be nice or it could be wet and heavy so I think they're probably going to go for it in the first game.
The vexed question of altitude and how to best prepare left the Irish with no option. You do one of two things. You do as they've done, go there two or three weeks ahead of time. Obviously that was not an option for us.
Or, you go in at the last minute. You don't go in a week before. It's standard procedure now. All the Super 12 would do the same. Late in or very early. We don't have the every early option so it has to be later.
And what is the motivation at the end of what has been a long season ? We're in a situation where Ireland probably for the first time, will be seen as having a really good chance of beating a South African side. I think there's a lot of truth in that. I wouldn't run away from that issue.
We've a good injury profile. We've pretty much the team we want on the plane. We had a really good Six Nations. We've won 10 of our last 13 Tests for the year. This is Test number 14 and 15.
So we've been in good form. It's a good way to go on a trip like this. And that's the big test for us now. Can we now carry the form we had at the end of the Six Nations into South Africa.
Hopefully the answer is yes and if we do I think they're a good chance of winning what would be the first Test ever on South African soil. That's a good target to set for ourselves, the possibility of being the first Irish side to win on South African soil in a Test game.