Depending on the result, Sunday’s World Cup Pool D encounter with Argentina could be Denis Hickie’s last game for Ireland. The Leinster winger, who announced last month that he would retire at the end of the tournament, firmly believes that the men in green can produce the goods against the Pumas and get the desired result.
Hickie has played in his fair share of high pressure games down through the years, both for Leinster and Ireland, and is confident that he can use that nous to aid Eddie O’Sullivan’s men to the required victory against the Pumas in Paris.
“This was always going to be a huge game, and now you’re simply talking about degrees of hugeness. It doesn’t matter who scores the tries, although to the layman there is usually the perception that they should come from the back three. I suppose that brings its own pressure but equally that’s just part of the job.
“I’d like to think I bring what I always bring to the game, the more tangible things like experience – having played in many big games like this one over the course of my career – and also decision making, kicking and confidence in what I can do,” said Hickie, whose “tuppence worth” of input off the field has been invaluable to his younger colleagues both pre and post-match.
Gaining an early control of possession, Hickie believes, will be key to Ireland setting out their stall at the Parc des Princes as they seek to score at least four tries against the South Americans and boast a winning margin of at least eight points by the final whistle.
“Gaining possession and controlling it will be vital for us…that’s been the case in every game I’ve played. I have to believe we can produce and if I didn’t believe that, then I shouldn’t be playing.
“The pressure will come at certain points of the game. Whenever that point arrives, you can start panicking and drop your heads. We have to envisage that point and stick to our guns and not go into our shells. We have to stick to what we believe will work,” added the Dubliner.
Just days ahead of potentially his last professional game of rugby, Hickie reckons he can cope with the extra pressure involved with it possibly being the last hurrah for him with Ireland. “I got my head around that well before the tournament started so I don’t feel a huge amount of added pressure,” he replied.