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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Post-Match Reaction: Bayonne 6 Ireland 42

Post-Match Reaction: Bayonne 6 Ireland 42

Read on for the thoughts of hat-trick scoring winger Denis Hickie and lock Donncha O’Callaghan following Ireland’s hard-fought 42-6 friendly win over Bayonne at Stade Jean Dauger on Thursday.

DENIS HICKIE:

ON THE BRUISING NATURE OF THE GAME AND THE BRIAN O’DRISCOLL INCIDENT –

“It was a brusing game alright, it was just like a step back in time. I thought those things were a thing of the past. We were very concerned. It was a blatant punch in the face – Brian (O’Driscoll) wasn’t even the guy he was looking at, which is really cowardly.

“Bayonne gave us the fixture, which was great at the start, but then it degenerated into a mess of a game, which is disappointing.

“We’ve a lot to lose playing against guys who have nothing to lose, so there’s an element of danger in a game like that. It was shaping up to be a great occasion. The Bayonne fans came out and gave us a great reception.

“The fact it ended on a sour note is a bit of a downer. There’s always a risk in any match – the nearer the World Cup, the more the risks. You just want the World Cup to start but you still need games so you’re stuck between a rock and a hard place.”

ON THE POSITIVES FROM THE GAME –

“We got a few things out of it, guys getting a run-out after a while, and it’s 80 minutes under our belts. The positive is we got a run-out. A game this week and another one next week. The more games the better but the less games like that the better too!

“Personally it was a strange kind of week (following the retirement announcement) but I’m very content now and it just makes me all the more focused on this World Cup. I’m hungrier than ever now to play as well as I can. The clock is ticking and I hope every game I play is my best one.”

DONNCHA O’CALLAGHAN:

ON ‘THE BATTLE OF BAYONNE’ –

“Before, I never got to play in these games much, you could go out and play them in the spirit of the game, but this is madness. It was across the board and Neil Best took unbelievable punishment all night – cheap shots, hit late, hit from behind, grabbing him, gouging him, everything. For a fella who put up with as much as he put up with before he actually snapped, I’ve so much respect for him.”

ON IRELAND’S OVERALL DISPLAY –

“It was good to get a run-out but it never got up to international pace. It felt like we played brilliantly in the first 20 minutes of each half but then we kinda got drawn into stupid off-the-ball incidents. It’s hard to tell fellas ‘let if off, let it off’, when they’re picking up all these hits and knocks and bangs, but when that happened Brian I think fellas just saw red.

“Then we brought guys off the bench to protect some guys but it was hard to keep the head when it was just blatant cheap shots.

“We wanted to kind of break stride, maybe into second or third gear. We did that in phases, mainly at the start of each half, but we’re still a way off yet.

“But it’s a long way to the World Cup as well. We want to be peaking come then. Say last week, people probably would have said we didn’t have enough contact – we’re a week further down the line and hopefully come the World Cup we’ll hit the ground running.”