…Facilities Gain Players’ Approval…Husselman Hoping To Follow Pumas’ Lead…Skrela Injury Blow For French…Say What?…Numbers Game…
FACILITIES GAIN PLAYERS’ APPROVAL: Writing in his Sunday Times World Cup column, Ireland lock Paul O’Connell revealed how the team hotel in Bordeaux was to the players’ satisfaction.
Since their arrival on Wednesday, the players and management staff have been getting used to their surroundings and their base at the Sofitel Bordeaux Lac got the thumbs up.
“The hotel is a fair way out of town but the facilities are first class,” explained O’Connell.
“We have a huge team room one floor beneath our bedrooms, a big gym alongside, a TV room with six or seven couches, and a snack room. Roy Keane would approve.
“We’ll even have (masseur) Willie Bennett’s hydrotherapy van – he brought it over on the ferry earlier in the week. It’s now branded and satisfies every health and safety law. regulation. The lads can’t get enough of Willie’s van.”
Whilst pre-season and the forming of the player committees has done much for morale in the Ireland camp, the players’ decision to exchange gifts for the World Cup has seen some slightly bend the true meaning of the word ‘gift.’
O’Connell added: “We’re pretty close-knit at this stage. We even gave each other gifts especially for the World Cup. Personal endorsement deals really came in handy for some fellas.
“Rog (Ronan O’Gara) gave us all Newbridge silver cuff-links and pens, while (Gordon) D’Arcy got fabulous MP3 players from Phillips.
“At the other end of the scale, John Hayes brought along cans of Adidas deodorant, while Stephen Ferris gave everyone water pistols. Mine was boxer shorts from Elverys. Guys that don’t bring anything will be fined appropriately.”
HUSSELMAN HOPING TO FOLLOW PUMAS’ LEAD: Namibia coach Hakkies Husselman feels his team can take a leaf out of Argentina’s book and try to spring a shock against Ireland tonight.
The Pumas fought their way to a thrilling 17-12 win over hosts France to get the World Cup off to a surprising start on Friday night.
Drawing encouragement from Namibia’s two Test wins over Ireland in the pre-professional days of 1991, Husselman said: “Ireland are a tier one nation and have a very good side at the moment. We have a lot of respect for them. We’re a tier three nation so they’re expected to put a lot of points against us.
“But as we saw on Friday night with Argentina, anything is possible. Argentina showed that if you play with passion and your defensive structures are in order you can upset anyone.
“We beat Ireland a few years ago. It wasn’t the professional era then and things have changed since,” he admitted.
“But anything can happen on the day and we’ll perform to the best of our ability. I believe we can stay in it for 80 minutes. I will be satisfied if we give a good account of ourselves.”
SKRELA INJURY BLOW FOR FRENCH: France will be without out-half David Skrela for their must-win clash with Ireland in Paris on September 21.
Following a scan, Skrela has been ruled out of contention for at least two of France’s Pool D matches. He injured his ankle in the 17-12 defeat to Argentina and was forced to sit out the closing stages.
The Stade Francais clubman tore his left Achilles tendon and has been ordered to rest for 15 days, meaning he will miss the games against Namibia (September 16) and Ireland.
It now seems likely that Natal Sharks signing Frederic Michalak will start at number 10 against Ireland, unless coach Bernard Laporte wants to give youth its chance with highly rated 21-year-old Lionel Beauxis also available to him.
“I suppose I was a little surprised in that the French showed great form going into the competition and they didn’t play anything like they would have expected.
“But having said that, I don’t think anyone would have been massively surprised. It doesn’t change anything for us. It’s impossible to predict whether the result was good for us or bad for us.
“There are too many permutations and combinations possible. First game in the competition – you can’t read that much into it.”
– Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan gives his reaction to Argentina’s opening night defeat of hosts France and what effect it has on Pool D
“We are heavy, hard, big guys. The African continent and those that play in South Africa are known for it. The trademark of South Africa is big, heavy forwards.”
– Namibia hooker Hugo Horn on the physicality that his side will bring to tonight’s World Cup clash with Ireland
“I’m head of the bus committee. It’s a long Wallace tradition. (My brother) Paul did it during the last World Cup and now it’s passed down to me.
“Anyone who has ever suffered for the sins of older brothers will know how it feels. Paddy Wallace is on it too for nothing more the fact of his surname.”
– Ireland flanker David Wallace discusses his appointment as head of the Irish squad’s bus committee for the World Cup
110 – The number of successful tackles that Argentina made during their 17-12 Pool D win over hosts France on Friday night
10,000 – The total number of points scored in the six World Cups to date passed the 10,000 mark yesterday. The milestone was passed during Australia’s 91-3 victory over Japan in Lyon
24 – The number of tries New Zealand and Australia scored between them in their opening wins over Italy and Japan