“I’ve said before that we didn’t want to leave this World Cup without one huge performance and I feel that that’s still very much within us.” The words of Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll as the hours count down towards tomorrow’s Pool D showdown with Argentina.
Now Ireland’s most-capped player in World Cup history with 12 appearances, O’Driscoll is adamant that his team are capable of securing what would be one of the most sensational results ever in Irish rugby – a bonus point win over a highly-flying Argentina side with a winning margin of eight points or more.
“We’d have gone home if we didn’t think that we were capable of winning this game. Everyone is in the mindset that it is achievable. We just have to produce an enormous performance and get the best out of everyone,” he admitted.
“I’ve said before that we didn’t want to leave this World Cup without one huge performance and I feel that that’s still very much within us.”
O’Driscoll will be warning his team-mates not to get overly concerned about Ireland’s target of scoring four tries, adding: “I don’t think we can concern ourselves with that. Obviously, if we knew going into our game what we had to achieve, well, all we can go out and do is try to achieve that. But, first and foremost, you have to think about winning the game.
“If you start thinking about racking up points against the likes of Argentina then you’re in trouble. You have to think about winning the game first and foremost, scoring your points, kicking your goals and taking you opportunities.
“If things start to open up then, fantastic, but invariably games against Argentina are quite tight, so putting up a record score against them in a tight, pressurised situation like this is unlikely. We just have to focus on winning the game.”
Asked if he will go in what sort of decision-making process Ireland will use as they chase tries tomorrow, he said: “I’m not someone who thinks through these things. I’m more of a react-in-the-now person. There’s been times before when I’ve had difficult decisions.
“I’ve gotten some right and some wrong in hindsight, but it’s only when you get out there (on the pitch) and you know how things are going, the feel of the team, the feel of how your momentum is, that you make your decision.
“That along with consulting Rog (Ronan O’Gara), who kicks goals, and Paul (O’Connell), who I ask whether he feels the pack are capable of mauling over, whether they feel confident, or whether we’re better off…it’s all a balance of a number of things.”
Considering Ireland have only scored four tries against Argentina on two previous occasions (the last being in 2000), the Pumas are yet to concede a try in the 2007 World Cup, the colourful history between the sides and Ireland’s recent loss of form, if the Irish did pull off the required result in Paris, what would it mean to O’Driscoll?
“It’d mean that we were in to the quarter-finals of the World Cup, which is a goal that we set ourselves. With regards to my career, I don’t think now is the time to be contemplating how enormous a feat it could be. I think that maybe post-World Cup we could maybe look back at it. Ifs and maybes are big things. When the deal is done, I’ll chat to you properly about it,” insisted the Irish skipper.
O’Driscoll also paid special mention to prop Simon Best who remains in hospital in Bordeaux having taken ill on Wednesday evening. “When something like that happens to someone in the squad just out of the blue, everyone feels it. There’s a big element of relief that Simon came through and it wasn’t more serious. It was hugely unfortunate for him and while we must get on with things, he’s still very much in our thoughts,” he added.