Eddie O’Sullivan is preparing his side for a stern challenge from Scotland who, despite their loss to Italy, are sure to pose a serious threat to Ireland’s Triple Crown aspirations at Murrayfield on Saturday week (kick-off 1.30pm).
ON THE SCOTLAND GAME:
“The thing about Scotland is that they are having their ups and downs. They started their season, got well beaten by England and I’d say they were very unhappy with the scores they gave up.
“Their response was to bounce back and they pummelled the hell out of Wales. They will be very disappointed with their performance against Italy and I can only expect that they will come back and try and pummel a win out of us. They are very capable of it up in Murrayfield. France went there last year and got turned over, England went there and got turned over.
“Of course there are favourites for every game but on any given Saturday, anything can happen.
“Italy proved that last weekend against Scotland and there is no doubt about the fact that we are playing the Scotland that beat Wales. I think they’ll bounce back.”
ON RETAINING THE TRIPLE CROWN/IRELAND’S CHAMPIONSHIP CHANCES:
“It would be very disappointing to lose (against Scotland) given where we are at the moment.
“The game against England – we’d a great day out and we’ve got to park it now. I’m not taking anything for granted at all. I’ve always been one for that and if we let the last two games slip away because we lose focus, we’ll have to be very harsh on ourselves.
“I think that with the momentum we’ve got, there is a Triple Crown in the offing now. I’d like to make sure we cross that line. If we do that and then focus on the last game (against Italy), in a worst-case scenario we could finish second in the championship and in a best-case scenario we could maybe win it. That’s where the heads are at the moment.
“Some people might poo poo a Triple Crown, I certainly wouldn’t. The two Triple Crowns we’ve won, people have been very happy about. So, I can’t imagine people would be unhappy about another one. You can’t get hung up on what happened against France.”
ON MISSING OUT ON A GRAND SLAM:
“Of course this team is good enough to win a Triple Crown, a Grand Slam and a championship. That all changed in two minutes of rugby against France. I don’t see any value in dwelling on it. What you always do when things go right or things go wrong is that you reset your goals. The goals we set for ourselves now are a Triple Crown, and maybe a championship.
“Championships are elusive and Grand Slams even more elusive. When the championship started, I said two things must go our way – injury profile and a slice of luck.
“Against France, we came up short on both. We were missing Peter Stringer and Brian O’Driscoll, who were both very important, and we got a bad bounce.
“If either one had gone our way, we might have won the French match, but that’s all in the past.
“We’d be foolish to say that because we’re not going to win a Grand Slam, we won’t bother with anything. At the end of the day, I’m disappointed but I’m not going to beat myself to death about it, nor should the team.
“You can focus on what you can control and that’s the last two games. If we win those then we’ll see what happens. France have to go to Twickenham. The key is to give yourself a chance.”
ON THE CHALLENGE POSED BY ITALY:
“I haven’t seen a game like Italy’s one against Scotland – it was worse than us in Paris last year. hey gave away three tries so early and that was catastrophic, the worst possible start.
“They might have won the game had they not given Italy that start but Pierre Berbizier knows what Italy are about. He has got them ticking the right way.
“He has brought back Alessandro Troncon who has been the heartbeat of the team. Italy are such a dangerous side.
“We go to Rome for the our last game and it will be a humdinger. They’re such a physical team and they hang onto the ball for so long. They’re aggressive in defence and can cause problems.”
ON TUESDAY’S TRAINING SESSION:
“Neil Best sat out the session with a dead leg but he’ll be fit to play for Ulster in the Magners League at the weekend. He’ll be fine for Scotland.
“Gordon D’Arcy has a sore groin and David Wallace has a stiff back, but they’re just minor complaints.”