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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Eddie O’Sullivan: Press Conference Quotes

Eddie O’Sullivan: Press Conference Quotes

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan gave his opinion on a variety of issues related to tomorrow’s mouth-watering World Cup Pool D showdown with France at a press conference in Paris today. Read on for more.

ON THE FRENCH TEAM SELECTION:

“I don’t want to talk for Bernard Laporte but I suspect he’s selecting to form really. They’re the players he feels that are on top of their game at the moment. I suppose in tournament you’ve got to travel that road. It’s a one-off game. They’re the guys bringing home the bacon at the moment. I think that’s what he’s gone with. I think we all had our opinions but it’s pretty much a form selection so when you look at that way, there’s not really any surprises there.”

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ON SEBASTIEN CHABAL STARTING IN THE SECOND ROW:

“Well (Fabien) Pelous being out, that door was open. He (Chabal) had a big impact in the last match and he’s on form. He has played in the second row before so it’s not like it’s a stretch for him. It’s not like he’s being put out of position dramatically. He’ll also bring a bit of extra mobility to their back five, having a dual player in the second row. He’s comfortable there so I don’t see it as a weakness when you consider the form he’s in.”

ON CENTRE YANNICK JAUZION BEING BENCHED:

“If you’d picked the French team at the start of the tournament then Jauzion would have been in there. But I suppose (Damien) Traille has shown good form. It’s very, very hard for me to talk about it but it’s a similar scenario to Chabal of picking a form player over a player who’s maybe not firing on all cylinders at the moment.”

ON THE RONAN O’GARA STORY IN L’EQUIPE:

“I think the players are very focused. I think they were a bit upset about what was written in the French media about one of our players, and I would say I’m upset about it as well.

“I would say one thing – I’m delighted that the Irish media didn’t jump on the bandwagon. It just shows that in the Irish media we’ve a much higher level of integrity when it comes to sports journalism. I thought what happened in the French media was a disgrace.

“And it has angered people more than upset them. I think that might be a good thing at the end of the day because we are in the lion’s den a little bit here and for the French media to decide to go down that road a few days before a game I thought it was, well, I won’t used the word I have in my head, but pretty annoying to say the least.

“It goes in the pot. You can’t build your motivation on one thing. We’ve lots of things motivating us – a quarter-final, the performance that we aspire to that we have reached earlier this year and knowing that if we deliver that performance we’ll be there or there abouts. And you throw this on top of it, it just adds fuel to the fire. So motivation won’t be a problem tomorrow night, I can assure you of that.

“He (Ronan) was a bit upset with what happened. It was an attack on him on a personal level, which was totally unfounded as well. There was no evidence of anything like that. It was just really nasty stuff. But he’s a tough individual. He’s a guy who can focus better than any other person I know.

“It’s not going to put him off. If anything, it will make him more determined. He’s a guy who’s always loved a challenge and tomorrow’s a big challenge for everyone.”

ON HIS TEAM BEING UNDER PRESSURE:

“To be fair, both ourselves and France are under pressure, probably for different reasons. We haven’t played well up to now. We need to perform to the standards we’ve set ourselves. The pressure is on us to deliver in what is a pivotal game in the pool.

“I suppose that France are under a different kind of pressure in that a loss would mean the end of the World Cup for them, which, for them, going in as the favourites, would be pretty catastrophic. So that brings its own pressure for them.

“Everyone has pressure on them and I suppose at this stage of the tournament to think that you won’t be under pressure is a bit asinine anyway. You come to a World Cup to perform and there’s pressure on every step of the way. Every week brings extra pressure.

“But, as Brian (O’Driscoll) said, we all want to be here. Sometimes it’s an easy job, sometimes it’s tough. But just because it’s tough doesn’t mean you don’t want to do it. Everybody in the Irish camp wants to be here and wants to perform. It’s this type of pressure which brings the best out of you.

“It’s about delivering under pressure. As Brian said, it’s easy when there’s no pressure on – the real test is doing it when the chips are down. This team relishes that. We have before and we will again.”

ON HOW IRELAND WILL APPROACH THE GAME:

“The focus for us is we need to control the game, the tempo, possession and field position. The big matches are about control. If you’re not controlling the opposition then they’re doing the same to you. And there will be times tomorrow night when France will be control, but over the 80 minutes it’s the team who is in the ascendancy the most that will win the game. We’re very conscious of that.”

ON FRANCE’S DEFEAT TO ARGENTINA TWO WEEKS AGO:

“I didn’t learn a lot from the Argentina match because I knew what Argentina were capable of. Twenty minutes into the match I knew what the likely outcome of it would be because Argentina know what buttons to push against France. They did it exceptionally well. There are lessons there for us obviously.

“There have been times during Six Nations matches against France that we haven’t had that control of the game. We know what it takes to do that, it’s just a job of going out there and doing it.

“Argentina managed that game extremely well from the start. In this scenario where it’s ‘winner takes all’ it’s just about getting the job done, whatever it takes. I thought that was the lesson from the first game of the tournament.”

ON RECOVERING FROM TWO POOR PERFORMANCES AGAINST NAMIBIA AND GEORGIA:

“The high risk game we played in the autumn and Six Nations we tried to replicate here. But we were shy of match practice and made lots of errors. That didn’t help our confidence. But when you step back from the game you realise it’s very fixable. We knew we had to score points against the smaller sides and that created its own pressure, which forced more mistakes and the whole thing became a vicious circle.

“Tomorrow is different because we know France, we play them every year and have been to the Stade de France. We know them and they know us. In some ways that will settle the mind. We didn’t know much about Namibia and Georgia. We know what we are facing against France so they’re much easier to prepare for.”

ON THE THREE CHANGES HE MADE TO HIS TEAM:

“I don’t think it’s a risk changing the team if the team has been changed for a reason. It was a big decision to leave out Peter Stringer because he’s been the heartbeat of the side for so long now – dropping him was the hardest decision I’ve ever made as Ireland coach.

“The harsh reality is that I think we’ll be a better team without him. Someone asked me if that’s the end of Peter and I laughed, because it’s not the dog in the fight but the fight in the dog and anyone who knows Peter understands that he epitomises that.”

ON USING THE CROKE PARK LOSS TO FRANCE AS MOTIVATION:

“We knew in the aftermath of Croke Park that we would have this chance to put that defeat right. Croke Park has been at the back of our minds. It’s a real motivation for us to know we had the beating of a French team in a big pressure situation, but let it slip. Now more than ever we’re determined not to let that happen. That goes into the pot.”