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Set Piece Strength Pleases O’Callaghan

Set Piece Strength Pleases O’Callaghan

Saturday was a very good day at the office for Donncha O’Callaghan and the Ireland forwards. The lineout and scrum delivered the sort of platform required to end Ireland’s barren run against France and it was a fillip for second row O’Callaghan to see things go so well.

Reflecting on certain aspects of the three-try defeat of the French, Donncha O’Callaghan said: “An awful lot of people use the ELVs as excuses but fellas are on top of them now. Our lineout is functioning really well and the scrum is brilliant.

“The Irish scrum doesn’t get half enough credit sometimes. Guys like John Hayes, Marcus (Horan), Jerry (Flannery) and Rory (Best) were phenomenal out there.

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“I want to be careful now. I don’t want to be putting a line in the sand, saying that we’re the bomb. We’ve an awful lot of work still to do.

“We’ll go through the video and be very harsh on each other and try to back up a big performance again next Sunday against Italy.

“I remember two years ago how much it hurt (losing to France). So to get a result like this against a quality team is great and it will give us good confidence going forward.”

Ireland and France went hell for leather at each other in what proved to be one of the most engrossing internationals for some time. O’Callaghan agreed that the intensity shown was a sizable leap up from the Heineken Cup.

“International rugby is at a pace of its own. Provincial rugby, club rugby doesn’t compare,” he admitted.

“This is a massive step-up where you’re playing against the best players and the best teams.

“The quality, you just can’t make mistakes against this opposition because they’ll punish you. You look around our dressing room, guys are absolutely exhausted.

“It happens the first week of the Six Nations and we’ll be all the better for it.”

Saturday’s result represented Ireland’s first win over France since 2003 and the following season they went on to annex their first Triple Crown of the professional era.

Asked if this latest win could inspire the men in green on to greater things, O’Callaghan was quick to point to the confidence factor.

“No one mentioned (the stat about our last win over France) but everyone knew it. We’ve been so close against France in recent years. Today may prove to be a great momentum-builder for us going forward.

“It will give us great confidence. Confidence is what it’s all about at this end of the game.

“Guys will try little things that they mightn’t have tried had we lost and hopefully going forward it will lead to big performances.”