Speaking at Croke Park on Friday, Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan discussed the injuries to Brian O’Driscoll, Peter Stringer and Malcolm O’Kelly and his side’s acclimatisation with their ‘new’ home ground.
ON THE DISRUPTION CAUSED BY THE O’DRISCOLL AND STRINGER INJURIES:
“Both Brian (O’Driscoll) and Peter (Stringer) are obviously very disappointed because they’re going to miss a huge occasion on Sunday. But we’ve got to take emotion out of these decisions and make sensible calls.
“Brian’s hamstring is not right. He trained for 40 minutes on it and at the end it started to tighten up again, so, discretion is the better part of valour in these situations.
“We’ve another three games in the Six Nations after Sunday and we’ll need Brian and Peter back for them. They were good medical decisions and you’ve got to live by that – that’s what we’ve always done.
“We practiced all week without them. We prepared for this game as if we wouldn’t have them, so, on that basis, there isn’t any disruption there.”
ON THE POSSIBILITY OF THEM PLAYING:
“I know it would have been a big gamble, both of them could have started. If they re-injure themselves, particularly in Brian’s case with a hamstring, the odds are that it would be a much worse tear than a grade one, which could put him out for the rest of the Six Nations. I think, in that context, it becomes a very simple decision to make.”
ON ISAAC BOSS’ INCLUSION:
“I think it’s very good for Isaac that he did play in the autumn. He has a full Test (against Australia) under his belt and coming into the Six Nations now, he’s got something in the bank there.
“It would have been a lot tougher if he had sat through the entire autumn series on the bench and was suddenly making his first start on Sunday.
“In that respect I’m very happy about that – that we have got somebody who has been there before.”
ON MALCOLM O’KELLY’S KNEE INJURY:
“It’s our worst fears confirmed really. Malcolm went to Belfast (for the Ireland ‘A’ game) and he broke down again. Unfortunately for him, we don’t know where (the injury) is at the moment.
“I know he’s very upset, because he was excited that he was going to captain the ‘A’ team. I think Malcolm has never captained a team in a professional game.
“It’s a concern for us because he has a lot of miles on the clock and an injury such as this one is never a good thing.”
ON PLAYING AT CROKE PARK:
“You can’t ignore the fact that we’re at Croke Park. You can’t ignore the fact that there will be 80,000 people screaming for us. Not that we want to ignore it. I think that’s going to be the big plus.
“But we have to go out and execute a game plan, we still have to go out and take on a French team, the most successful team in the Six Nations in recent years – so it’s getting the balance right between embracing the occasion and doing our job.”
ON ADAPTING TO THEIR ‘NEW’ HOME GROUND:
“The first thing we did was try out different footwear, but strangely enough we didn’t have to change our footwear. They just wear their normal studs and it’s worked fine. We’ve had no issues at all with the ground.
“We’d heard that there were rumours about it being hard, about being slippery but we didn’t find it to be like that. We anticipated that this might have been a problem but it hasn’t materialised like that. Today is our third run-out here and it’s been perfect.”
ON KICKING AND THE PITCH AND STADIUM SIZE:
“We’ve talked about the stadium, we’ve talked about the surface, we’ve talked about the touchlines and getting our targets. Iit’s all part of the job so it’s about embracing it without being overcome by it.
“It’s only the kickers who would be worried, maybe the touchlines are further than at Lansdowne Road, but they’ll overcome that by picking targets on the advertising hoardings so they know which targets they’re aiming for and when they’re kicking over the posts.
“The posts are the same size as Lansdowne Road or Twickenham. They’ll be picking targets beyond the posts, so it’s just about acclimatisation and getting comfortable here.”