As he prepares to lead Ireland for the 34th time this weekend, Brian O’Driscoll faced the press at the team hotel in Killiney. See below for the skipper’s thoughts.
ON FACING WALES AWAY FIRST:
“Sometimes it’s good to test yourself with a game like this at the start. It’s sharpened our minds. We realise how good Wales are at home – they’re a very hard side to beat in Cardiff.
“We know that we can’t hold anything back in the first ten minutes. We have to start right on that first whistle because there’s no doubt that they’ll be out of the blocks very quickly and we have to match them.
“I anticipate it being a real ding-dong match and I don’t think there’ll be very much between the teams at the end of the game.”
ON IRELAND’S PREPARATIONS:
“I recognise that no team goes into the Six Nations free of injury – that’s a part of the physicality of the championship – and of course we’ll miss Shane Horgan. “But the fact that Geordan Murphy can’t get into the starting line-up demonstrates the depth in the squad. In the circumstances, I think this is the best prepared Irish team ever going into the Six Nations.”
ON WALES’ EXPECTATIONS:
“I’m sure that Wales are quietly confident. Nobody’s really talking them up. A lot of the talk has been about us and I’m sure they’re happy about that.
“They’ll have high expectations because two years ago they managed to win the Grand Slam with the same set of fixtures as this year and I think that makes them dangerous.”
ON IMPROVING FROM THE AUTUMN:
“I don’t know whether the standard we set in the wins over South Africa and Australia would be a good enough standard, but I feel it would be a great disappointment to the side, if we don’t improve (during the Six Nations). People were patting us on the back after those matches and telling us how well we had played. But, when you analyse the games, we still made a huge amount of errors.
“We spurned a lot of scoring opportunities, so we have plenty still to improve on. We have to realise that, and not think we are the finished article.
“Not, I think, that any of us did believe it. A team doesn’t stay the same, they either get better or they get worse. Hopefully, we get better.”