Brian O’Driscoll says the Ireland back-line has the potential to cause France plenty of problems in Saturday’s RBS 6 Nations opener at Croke Park, as the home side chase their first win over les Bleus since 2003.
With the likes of Paddy Wallace and Rob Kearney selected in their preferred positions at inside centre and full-back, the Ireland back-line for Saturday’s encounter with France is brimming with form and footballing talent.
Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll, who will have Wallace inside him at number 12, is excited by the line-up.
“There’s a lot of potential there (in the back-line). One of the real plusses I see with Paddy is that he’s a great distributor. It’s nice having that inside you,” he said.
“He’s a real creator. I’ve played with Paddy at centre before, in the summer against New Zealand and Australia and with the Under-19s, when I was 12 and he was 10.
“We know each other quite well. I always looked forward to playing with him.”
Of course, O’Driscoll really burst onto the international scene with his hat-trick of tries in Ireland’s memorable win over France in Paris in 2000.
Over the past six years, however, Ireland have been on the end of a series of frustrating defeats to the French.
Perhaps the most disappointing one of all coming two years ago when a late Vincent Clerc try robbed the men in green of a debut victory at Croke Park.
Asked what he expects of France this weekend, O’Driscoll said: “They’ll look to start as well as they have done in the past couple of years against us, try to put the game beyond you early on.
“That’s the pressure of playing France – they have the capabilities to score very quickly, very early on and in succession.
“So you’ve to manage that and at the same time, try to implement our own game – you don’t have to pull off miracle plays in the first five games – just grow into the game and see what happens after that.”
O’Driscoll is hopeful that this Irish back-line can ‘click’ first time out in the 2009 Championship and do some damage.
“It’s getting more and more difficult to get line-breaks at international level. There’s different personel in for this game, we’ve worked hard at trying to be a unit and it’s very much that – it’s about being a unit and trying to understand each other.
“The more you play together the more you do understand each other’s games and play off instinct.
“There’s no great formula to it. It’s just a matter of trying to make it happen.”
The Leinster centre, who turned 30 last month, also insisted that the fact that only one French club (Toulouse) has qualified for the Heineken Cup quarter-finals will not be an issue during the RBS 6 Nations.
“You always take the best out of your given situation. If they did extremely well in the Heineken Cup, they’d take that confidence on board and feel as though they could all bring positives to the set-up.
“Whereas now, granted their clubs haven’t done brilliantly in Europe, this is really a new entity for them. It’s away from their clubs and it’s back to France.
“I’m sure they’ll be looking to put in big performances to try and impress Marc Lievremont because he’s mixed the team up in the last while.
“Guys are looking to cement their places as regulars in the team and there’s no better time to do that than in the first game.”