Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan spoke to journalists in the aftermath of announcing his team and replacements for Sunday’s World Cup Pool D clash with Argentina. See below for what he had to say.
ON RECALLING DENIS HICKIE AND GEORDAN MURPHY INTO THE TEAM:
“Last week, I went for Andrew (Trimble) because I wanted him to do certain things. This time, I’m bringing in Denis because of the dynamics of the back three.
“Geordan (Murphy) is in at the deep end and I’m sure he’ll be fine. Cometh the hour, cometh the man. He’ll be up for this one, we know he brings a cutting edge in attack, he’s a great strike runner and very good under the high ball and with a good right peg on him.
“Girvan Dempsey has been the most consistent player in the backline, very solid all the way through. (With his shoulder injury) he’s a loss. But we know what Geordan can do when he’s in form.
“It’s a good opportunity for him. Some people believe he’s been hard done by and I can understand that. And it’s not fair to say that I lost faith in Geordan. I have lots of faith in him. France was a team Geordan has struggled against in the past but this is a different game and a different challenge.”
ON NOT MAKING CHANGES TO THE SECOND ROW AND BACK ROW:
“I’m happy enough with the back five and believe sticking with them is the best option. The lineout didn’t fire against France and they caused us a lot of problems. And most of the ball we did win was hard-fought. So, for that reason, we did look at the lineout.
“But there are always trade-offs in these situations – we could have brought Alan Quinlan into the team but that would have changed the dynamic of the back row, and I’m happy enough with it at the moment.”
ON HIS EXPERIENCE OF THE 2007 WORLD CUP:
“I’m not enjoying the way the team is playing but that doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying the World Cup experience. It’s a tough time right now but in this job you go through periods like this. In 2005 (in the autumn) things didn’t go well for us. It’s similar now.
“It’s accentuated by the fact we’re at the World Cup and there’s more focus on everything, but that’s just part of the job. The criticism comes with the territory. When the team is playing well you get praised, so you must take the good with the bad.
“All I can do is keep my head down and keeping working at it. I’ve worked very hard since I got here and will continue to do so.”
ON INJURIES TO TWO OF HIS HOOKERS:
“Rory (Best) has been carrying an injury which he has almost recovered from. We’ll know in the next 24 hours if he is ready. Jerry (Flannery) should be okay as well – he picked up a stinger which is not unusual in contact sessions.
“We’re waiting for clarification on their situations. We’re optimistic they will both be available but I don’t want to make my mind up until I have all the facts.”
ON THE LEG INJURY TO RONAN O’GARA:
“Ronan (O’Gara) picked up a nasty bruise on his leg. It’s bony bruising and he’ll be fine. It’s sore but he’s making good progress and we’ve kept him off the last few days to give him a chance. I’m not worried about him at all.”
ON IRELAND’S APPROACH TO SUNDAY’S GAME:
“Argentina have defended really well so far in this tournament. In general terms, against Argentina the mistake you make against them is forcing the game. They have a habit of scrambling really well.
“You might get a line break against them, like France did in the first game, but they’re very good at turning the ball over. So, it’s about keeping your composure. They tend to force you into errors. You have to be sensible with possession and not try to score every time you touch the ball.”
ON THE PLAYERS’ CONFIDENCE AFTER THREE POOR PERFORMANCES:
“They (the players) must continue to believe in themselves. Within themselves, they should know they have played some excellent rugby over the last twelve months. That has eluded us in this tournament but the key is to stay focused on that goal. We know that game is in us, we just have to drag it out and produce it on the pitch.
“Last week (against France), we got a lot closer to that, except we made life very difficult for ourselves. You have to believe that performance is in us. The lads definitely feel it’s there.”