Niall O’Donovan believes Ireland’s players have it within themselves to pull a big performance out of the drawer for Sunday’s World Cup Pool D tie with Argentina in Paris.
In order to qualify for the tournament’s knockout stages, the Irish have to grab a winning haul of four tries or more at the Parc des Princes and prevent Argentina from scoring a losing bonus point.
And having monitored the players closely at training this week, assistant coach Niall O’Donovan insisted: “We’ve not become a bad team overnight. The lads have rolled up their sleeves this week in training and worked really hard. They owe themselves a big performance on Sunday if nothing else.”
The Irish squad and management travelled from Bordeaux to Paris by train earlier today, leaving behind prop Simon Best who is having further tests carried out to determined the reason behind his sudden hospitalisation on Wednesday.
Best’s symptoms – loss of feeling down his right side, a headache and impaired speech – have thankfully been resolved and O’Donovan explained that the former Ulster captain is set to return home to Ireland “sometime on Sunday or Monday.”
“The news on Simon is a huge relief to the squad. I went with some of the lads to see him last night. There’s been no further diagnosis today and he will undergo more tests, but this latest news has given the lads a huge lift, there’s no doubt about that,” added the former Shannon and Munster back rower.
“Leaving him in the hospital was tough on the squad – and me as forwards coach – because we’re a tight-knit group. Simon is a great member of the squad and has been for a long, long time. He’s also a great guy who has great respect from everybody.”
O’Donovan is confident that hooker Rory Best, Simon’s younger brother, has and will not allow his sibling’s condition to distract him as he concentrates on helping Ireland beat the Pumas.
“Rory is in great form. We all know Rory well, he’s a tough guy who has worked very hard all week to get fit (after a thumb injury). He’s on the bench but I’d have no fear of Rory appearing on Sunday during the game,” O’Donovan said.
“There was a bit of banter between the two of them, Rory and Simon, at hospital. Stuff like Rory not caring about what way Simon was! It was friendly, good fun. Simon was as normal as I’ve ever seen him.
“He didn’t look like a patient in the hospital – he looked like a guy who was ready to go out and play a rugby match. He appeared to be fully recovered and it has been a huge relief to everyone concerned.”