Ireland assistant coach Niall O’Donovan spoke to the media at the team hotel as the hours tick down towards the men in green’s World Cup opener against Namibia.
ON NAMIBIA AND THEIR GAMEPLAN:
“Namibia have a strong pack of forwards, most of whom play in South Africa so they’re used to performing to a good standard. They have a solid front row and a very strong back row who are particularly good at scavenging for the ball on the floor.
“They played nearly a full South African team earlier this year and after 10 or 15 minutes, South Africa were 7-6 down. I know South Africa came back, but you need patience because these guys are going to throw everything at you for the first 15 or 20 minutes.”
ON IRELAND’S TEAM SELECTION AND THE RETURN OF INJURED PLAYERS:
“That’s something that goes with every game. Any game you’re taking a risk putting anybody out, but you’re also taking a risk when you are in training. Two of our most serious injuries were Wally (David Wallace) and Shane Horgan.
“You can’t wrap them in bubble wrap and hope that they’re there at the end of the tournament. They are professional enough to go about their business in the right way.”
ON IRELAND BEING ‘UNDER-COOKED’ FOR THE TOURNAMENT:
“If you look back four years ago, we didn’t play that much rugby beforehand either. In saying that we had September to play around with, we still only played the warm-ups against Italy and Scotland.
“In the physicality stakes, they’re a bit behind where they were four years ago. But the last two weeks have been fairly intensive, and hopefully we’ll see that on Sunday.”
ON WHAT AREAS IRELAND NEED TO IMPROVE ON:
“We were beaten in all contact areas against Italy but that’s what warm-ups are for, to get the mistakes out of your system. Our scrum wasn’t great against Italy either but throughout the Six Nations we regularly won 90 per cent of our own ball, so the problem there is not as bad as people like to make out.”