Speaking to the media at Tuesday’s team announcement press conference in Killiney, Ireland centre and captain Brian O’Driscoll gave his assessment of the 2008 Six Nations tournament, his Leinster colleagues making the international grade, his own form and this weekend’s opening game against Italy at Croke Park.
ON THE GAME AGAINST ITALY:
“You have to get off on a good footing in this competition, otherwise you’re under immediate pressure. Obviously the fact that it’s at home adds a little bit to that.
“We won’t put any more pressure than we need to on ourselves and we know that if we perform well we’re very capable of beating this Italian side.”
ON THE OVERALL CHAMPIONSHIP:
“I think it’s quite open. With three new coaches and a lot of retired players, there might be a little bit of a feeling out period for the first couple of games.
“For the first weekend certainly, teams will be looking at each other to see if styles have changed. Maybe it’s a little bit more difficult in that we face one of the teams with a changed coach. At the same time we’ve got to concentrate on our own game and not focus solely on them.”
ON HIS OWN CURRENT FORM:
“My form’s reasonable. I’ve certainly felt sharper since doing an extra bit of work over Christmas period and not playing. Working on my fitness and not having any niggling injuries hanging over me certainly sharpened me up and hopefully I’m not too far away from full form.”
ON MOVING FROM THE HEINEKEN CUP INTO THE SIX NATIONS:
“Anytime you pull on your national jersey it’s a huge leap, no matter what you say about the standard of the Heineken Cup improving. There’s still a gulf there between it and international level.
“I think everyone in the squad is looking forward to putting the Heineken Cup on hold, certainly from the Munster point of view, and just getting down to business with Ireland.”
To listen to Brian O’Driscoll’s interview in full, please click here.