Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan and stand-in captain Ronan O’Gara held a final press conference at the team hotel in London on Friday, ahead of the final Six Nations match against England. Click on the story link to see what they had to say.
ON THE CHALLENGE FACING HIS SIDE:
“That result (43-13 at Croke Park last year) goes to show what a fickle business we’re in. Things can change very quickly – in a week even.
“In some ways what happened last year will inspire England. They will have been hurt by that result and will want to put it right.
“But we’ve proven that if we do play up to par we’re capable of beating England.
“The trick is to replicate that tomorrow, go back to the trenches and show what we can do. Knowing we have done it in the past is positive, but you also know you have to go out and execute the plan.”
ON GEORDAN MURPHY BEING FIT TO START:
“It’s good to have Geordan back (after his Achilles tendon injury). He was unfortunate not to play against Wales because we really thought he had a chance.
“That proved not to be the case but he’s back now and the medics have done a great job on getting him fit and healthy. He loves playing against England.
“With him playing for Leicester, he knows a lot of the England players. He’s an experienced guy and that’s what we need at Twickenham.”
ON THE PRESSURE ON HIS SHOULDERS:
“There’s pressure on the job all the time – because we lost last week and are out of the championship title frame.
“People will make judgements on me and the team. That’s ongoing. All I can do is focus on England.
“If you let other people’s opinions impinge on your preparations, you’re not doing your job properly.”
ON STANDING IN AS CAPTAIN:
“I’ve enjoyed the captaincy and would like to think I’ve taken it in my stride. It hasn’t been difficult.
“The challenge for this weekend is to express ourselves. Paul O’Connell is making his second start of this season’s Six Nations and it’s a case of having to contain his eagerness for battle!
“That’s great to hear going to Twickenham. We won’t lack for motivation.
“But it’s not about talk, it’s about action on the pitch. We need a big game and it will be about who produces over the 80 minutes.”
ON TRYING TO END THE CHAMPIONSHIP ON A HIGH:
“We’re aware there’s a fair bit of negativity around at the moment. But Eddie and the coaching staff have been incredible in their preparation for the week.
“We’re a tight group inside the camp and we’re extremely focused on the game tomorrow.
“We view it was a huge opportunity to bring a smile and a bit of pride back into Irish rugby. All the boys want to put in a performance for themselves and the management team.”
ON JONNY WILKINSON’S DEMOTION TO THE ENGLAND BENCH:
“I was surprised when Jonny wasn’t selected because I’m a massive fan of his and he’s someone I admire hugely.
“For me he’s been at the top of the game and at the top of the outside-half world. But I don’t think you’ve seen the end of Jonny Wilkinson by any means.”
ON ENGLAND’S OUT-HALF FOR THE GAME – DANNY CIPRIANI:
“It’s a huge opportunity for Danny to stake his claim at international level. I’ve been very impressed by him. The two Heineken Cup games we (Munster) played against Wasps were completely different styles.
“We played them away on a soccer-style pitch which made for a fast match and I thought Danny had an excellent relationship with Riki Flutey – they seemed to play very well off each other.
“At Thomond Park, where there was a soft pitch and the conditions were difficult, it was hard to establish a platform so he didn’t get so much of an opportunity to shine.
“But he’s hugely exciting, a wonderful talent and has to be watched. He has electric pace.”