Speaking at the press conference in Greystones RFC after the side to play Russia had been announced.
Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan on the challenge facing his side next Saturday
“It’s a different challenge for us, different environment. We’ve never been to Russia before, I think it’s going to be a hostile environmentwith 20-30,000 people who’ll be fairly partisan so it’ll be good test of character for us.”
“They’ve performed pretty well in their European qualifiers and with a South African coach they have a strong South African influence in their pack. They performed well against Georgia and Romania although they were beaten, so they’re right in that bunch of hard-nosed Eastern European sides at the moment.”
” They’ll be quite physical and well organised and I believe that if they qualify for Rugby World Cup they’ll get significant government backing for that campaign and so it’s all to play for for them. So it’s a very important game for them so I would expect nothing more than a pretty difficult day out.”
” In so far as the Romania is concerned and how we’ll have to be different this time is, we’ll have to play much better, we’ll need to hang onto the ball more, make the tackles, be much more physical and cut down on our penalty count. “
“As I said it’s going to be a different environment for us, I mean it’s a very long trip, there’s a seven hour time difference. I think it’s as far as we’ve ever traveled to play a test that soon after arriving. There are issues about fatigue and jet lag which we are trying to address, but at the end of the day, come six o’clock in Krasnoyarsk on Saturday we’ve got to go out and play for 80 minutes regardless of the envirnoment, of the situation and that’s what we aim to do.”
” I know it’s my job to talk ourselves down and talk up the opposition, everybody knows that and every coach does it. But I think we still in world rugby haven’t officially accepted there is a bit of a paradigm shift in a lot of countries in the world. I mean that Romanian team we played in Limerick were probably as physical a side as we met in a long time, in fact they weren’t far off what it was like in New Zealand. The phisique of the players and their hunger for contact is very high. If you dis-respect that you’re going to have a very difficult day out. Russia is going to be exactly the same. The stakes are very high for them, they’ll be highly motivated and they’re a strong physical side like Romania. I know perhaps the media wouldn’t give them that credit but we certainly would. The perception that we might roll over these guys is only a problem if we believe it. The game against Romania was a very good marker for us, it was a well worthwhile exercise. It did alert players to the fact that these guys are here for business and you can be sure that Russia will be exactly the same.”