The atmosphere is really building in Paris ahead of tomorrow’s crunch World Cup Pool D clash between France and Ireland. See below for quotes from Ireland skipper Brian O’Driscoll from today’s pre-match press conference.
ON THE MOOD IN THE IRELAND SQUAD AHEAD OF THE GAME:
“I think it’s important that our destiny is still in our hands. And we’re in the situation that we always thought that we were going to be in. We’re going to have to beat France to progress to the knockout stages, so nothing has changed. We’re now just over 24 hours away from game time so everyone’s just really looking forward to getting out there.”
ON CAPTAINING THE SIDE FOR SUCH A BIG GAME:
“You always enjoy playing on the biggest stages. That’s when there’s most pressure on you. The most level of expectation from yourself, from your peers, from the public in general. They’re the days to really perform because they’re the days when you can really make a name for yourself.
“Anyone can play when there’s no pressure on them. I think it’s the real players who step up to the plate when it’s asked of them. It certainly won’t be me to lead alone. We’re going to have some big performances from some key players tomorrow night. So, I’m hoping that from that point of view my leadership will be easy.”
ON THE L’EQUIPE ARTICLE ON RONAN O’GARA:
“We’re a very tight knit group. We’ve all been together for the best part of three or four years, give or take one or two people. We’ve developed very strong friendships and when you see a slur on someone’s personality and private life, not on their sporting ability, you take it personally yourself.
“You wouldn’t wish that on anyone, least of all someone in your own team. So we’ll put it in the pot. We don’t forget easily. It’ll be used as extra motivation. The team will give the person in question the extra help he needs, even though he’s one of the strongest people I know.
“If you’re a cynic you could say the story was an attempt to knock things up in the days building up to the game – to throw a few sparks around the camp and unsettle us a little that. But we’re a bigger team than that. We’re not going to let something so stupid and so unfounded shake us. It will galvanise us more than anything.”
ON THE IMPORTANCE OF A GOOD START AGAINST FRANCE:
“The start against France is very important. You can’t let them grow in confidence so you have to set out your stall early and that’s what we’ll do. With regards to the crowd, the earlier we can silence them the better because it will add to some of the tension the French players will be feeling. But we can’t just think about them – we must implement our own game-plan.”
ON CENTRE YANNICK JAUZION’S ABSENCE FROM THE FRENCH TEAM:
“Jauzion’s exclusion was the one that shocked us most. But having said that, Bernard Laporte appears to be picking on form and Damien Traille played well in the last game. I’m sure we’ll see Yannick at some stage. I don’t think his World Cup is finished – I’m sure he’ll have something to say. Darce (Gordon D’Arcy) and I are looking forward to playing Damien and (David) Marty.”