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Favourite’s Mantle Goes With The Territory – O’Sullivan

Favourite’s Mantle Goes With The Territory – O’Sullivan

“I think Scotland will come to Dublin and won’t leave anything behind in Edinburgh. Probably bring the kitchen sink as well. We can expect a full frontal assault on Saturday – Eddie O’Sullivan.

“I think Scotland will come to Dublin and won’t leave anything behind in Edinburgh. Probably bring the kitchen sink as well. We can expect a full frontal assault on Saturday. – Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan refuses to buy into the popular theory that his side face an easy run to the Triple Crown although he does accept that Ireland wear the mantle of favourites.

” We were written in as winners last week before the game with Italy, that probably goes with the territory to be fair. I’m sure we are favourites to win the game against Scotland based on form. It’s the same dilemma for us this week as it was last week – completly different from the game in Twickenham – where we are expected to win the game. What we did a lot of last week was to focus on the key things that are going to get us across the finish line. It’s going to be more of the same this week.

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Scotland are a different team than Italy. Different type of team, different style of rugby. But the goals you set don’t change very much in terms of how you’re going to defend and how you’re going to attack. So it’s really about focussing on our performance.

“I think we’re clear that if we perform well on Saturday, we’ll win the game. But we have to perform well as always. There is a pressure inherent in that particularly when you are the favourites and I just hope we don’t have another monsoon or typhoon or like we had last week which made it a very difficult game. Hopefully we’ll get a good day and a chance to play a bit of rugby.

And how does a side cope with the huge expectation ?

” The only way you can deal the with that is to focus on the things that will make the outcome go your way. It’s not rocket science. It’ s how this thing works. We did a good job last week in that area. Let’s be fair. We were the favourites. We went out and we played well in the circumstances. We executed well and we got the result. The same principles and the same template apply this week.

” Of course there is always a danger when you’re in this position. This season, everything this squad has been asked to do, they’ve delivered on.
It’s been a long haul, this is our eight week in camp, (RBS Six Nations), a lot of work gone in. They all know it’s a great opportunity this weekend to win the Triple Crown. I don’t see fellas taking anything for granted. In some ways it might even be a little easier because of the prize at the end of it but we won’t take anything for granted.

Looking at the opposition O’Sullivan is wary of a side who he feels still have a big performance to deliver.

“They’ve had a difficult season there’s no two ways about that. If they turn us over next Saturday it would certainly turn their season around. So there’s a big carrot for them there.

“They’ve been known to be great party-poopers in their time. They always react well to being underdogs. They always deliver a good performance, a big performance, when people tell them they’re not going to perform. They’re a bit like ourselves in that.

“Now that makes them quite dangerous. They’re a team who is due a big performance in the championship. They won’t have any fears for Ireland. Their record against us, maybe not in recent times, but over the years has been good. I think Scotland will come to Dublin and won’t leave anything behind in Edinburgh. Probably bring the kitchen sink as well. We can expect a full frontal assault on Saturday.”

O’Sullivan believes that Scotland may not have enjoyed the rub of the green so far in this championship.

“There were periods in the game against France when I thought they looked very very good. It was when they were very direct and they ran really hard lines.

” They have some big ball-carriers, Bulloch, White & Simon Taylor in the pack. They’ve got Danielli who’s a big man out in the outside channels. So when they ran those direct hard lines and got quick ruck ball which they’re very capable of, when they got good go-forward, they looked quite dangerous.

” In fairness they had France in trouble a few times then threw a pass on the ground or knocked the ball on. Now if those passes had stuck or they hadn’t made those mistakes, they could have got France a couple of times.

” So if they play a very direct game, play well in that mindset, they’ll be difficult because some of the guys they have are very hard to put down on the other side of the gain-line. They seem to always get across it.”

The last time Ireland won the Triple Crown, O’Sullivan was at home watching on TV like most other people and agrees that the prize on offer has lost a little of it’s lustre.

” Now that we have six nations playing and there are five games and you get a Triple Crown by winning three, there is a case of diluting it a little bit. I think it’s still a good competition within the competition. It’s a good year when you can win three games – against Wales England and Scotland – It’s a rare enough event and if it happens it’ll be something to celebrate but it hasn’t happened yet . Probably not the same thing as it used to be in some ways, with the bigger picture of the Grand Slam. Even now, winning a championship doesn’t seem to be enough, you have to win the Grand Slam to mean anything. I mean if England won the championship on Saturday they’d probably fell they hadn’t completed the job ’cause they’ve lost a game already. The Grand Slam now is the big kohuna.

” But, put it this way. I wouldn’t turn a Triple Crown down on Saturday if it came our way.”