Ireland’s stand-in skipper Paul O’Connell gave us thoughts on the Six Nations clash with France, following Saturday’s Captain’s Run session at Croke Park.
ON THE CAPTAINCY:
“The captaincy is something I’ve done before and it’s something I love doing. It’s Brian’s job but when you step in for a week to do it, it’s great. I can throw myself into it for a week and then step back when he returns. I enjoy it.”
ON IRELAND’S DEBUT AT CROKE PARK:
“The Croke Park aspect of it is something we’ll enjoy and use as motivation but we must realise it won’t win us the game. France have played in plenty of hostile grounds so they’re well used to that sort of thing.
“They’ll be fairly oblivious to it. We have to do the ground justice by becoming the victorious team. History would look more favourably on a team that won their first game at Croke Park rather than lost it.
“We want to get the crowd behind us but we have to give them something to cheer about. We hope we’ll do that and they respond by giving us a massive lift. The crowd have a part to play in that.”
ON THE STADIUM AND PITCH:
“It’s a great facility. The pitch is in great nick. It’s a fabulous stadium, the dressing rooms are great and everything is settled for a good, exciting day. Now all we have to do is go out and do the ground justice with our performance.
“We’d heard so much about the pitch but it was better than we expected it to be (in training). It’s been fine for us, maybe because we’re wearing long studs.
“A lot of us have played in ovals in New Zealand and Australia so a lot of us are used to it. It’s a big thing for the kickers and chasers but apart from that, it’s fine.”