After naming his team to take on Italy this weekend, Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan discussed his selection and other matters with the media at the team hotel in Killiney.
ON HIS TEAM SELECTION:
“I wouldn’t say loyalty plays a factor. It’s down to form and the form over the last two months really, looking at the guys who played. For that reason we’ve some new faces in the 22.
“Facing into the Six Nations, the guys on the field, to me, are the form guys. We won’t get everyone to agree on that but that’s always been the case when you pick a fifteen.”
ON HOW THE TEAM WAS PICKED:
“There was no decision made on the final fifteen until last night (Monday). I’ll always believed on waiting to the final minutes before making up my mind because you’ve got to weigh things up and mull things over.
“We were naming the team this morning (Tuesday) so there wasn’t any real pressure to make a decision until last night. I sat down last night with Niall (O’Donovan) and weighed everything up. There were some tough calls, at hooker, in the back row, which there always are, and number 9 even.”
ON THE 2008 SIX NATIONS TOURNAMENT:
“I think every year we say this is the most open championship of all time, but I think this one definitely is. If you look through the six teams, no one knows really where anybody is.
“England had a tough Six Nations but got to a World Cup final. France, who won the Six Nations, have a lot of changes in their squad – we don’t know where they’ll be, they’ve a new coaching regime.
“Italy have a new coaching regime, Wales the same. Scotland are probably the team we know most about and expect most from in terms of we know where they are and where they’re going.
“But other than that, it’s pretty much wide open. I think we’ve learned in recent years that the one thing about the Six Nations tournament is that on any given day, any other team can beat the other and that’s probably what you want in a tournament.”
ON THE CHALLENGE ITALY WILL POSE:
“We know the type of game that they play but we can’t overread that as they’ve a new coach (Nick Mallett) and things may be different in certain areas, he may opt to change things around.
“But we know that they always bring an incredible amount of physicality and passion. They’re hugely physical games when you play Italy, I think they’re the most physical pack in the Six Nations bar none.
“The squad he’s picked, there’ll be changes at half-back for sure. They’re missing (Marco) Bortolami out of their pack but I don’t think there will be sweeping changes.”
To listen to Eddie O’Sullivan’s interview in full, please click here.