Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll has suffered a bout of vertigo in the past 24 hours but is confident that he will be fit to play against New Zealand in Saturday’s Test match at Yarrow Stadium.
Brian O’Driscoll remained in the team hotel in New Plymouth as the remainder of the Ireland squad took part in the Captain’s Run session at Yarrow Stadium on Friday, the venue for their clash with the All Blacks.
O’Driscoll has experienced vertigo before, most notably in the aftermath of last year’s Grand Slam-clinching win over Wales, and reckons that he will be fully fit to lead Ireland this weekend.
“I’ll be grand in another 24 hours. I just get a bit of vertigo now and then. I haven’t had it for a while,” he said.
“The last real memory of having it was the night we won the Grand Slam and I couldn’t go to the dinner. It just came on and I was getting sick that time.
“I just felt a little bit dizzy last night and went to bed and felt a bit better this morning. I took a little bit more medication and I’m grand.”
O’Driscoll’s centre partner Gordon D’Arcy also missed the Captain’s Run but, as Ireland coach Declan Kidney explained, it is not an unusual occurrence for players to sit out the final session of the week.
“Our Captain’s Run is just a way of getting the body up. You don’t want to be hanging around the hotel for 48 hours before a match,” explained Kidney.
“We ask guys how they are feeling and if it’s prudent for them to run out they do that. Friday is just a case of keeping the body ticking over for Saturday.”
A Test win over New Zealand is missing from Irish rugby’s CV and O’Driscoll would dearly love to be the man to captain Ireland to that maiden victory over the All Blacks.
Asked what Ireland need to do in order to achieve that, he said: “You’ve got to play one of your better games in an Irish jersey collectively, not just seven or eight of us. Everyone has to combine for a really good performance.
“In the past we’ve put in good performances for 50 or 60 minutes and not been able to complete the full 80. That’s the big test.
“Anytime we’ve been in with a shout we’ve taken the foot off or New Zealand have put extra pressure on us in the last 20 and they’ve come good.”
The winning and losing of Saturday’s game will probably be in the forwards where New Zealand forwards coach Steve Hansen feels the home side will have the advantage, despite their relative inexperience at this level.
The All Blacks’ starting pack includes debutant prop Ben Franks and his brother and fellow prop Owen, who has nine caps to his name, and there are two more new forwards on the replacements bench in Sam Whitelock and Victor Vito.
O’Driscoll has plenty of faith in Ireland’s selected eight, adding: “You have to get at least parity in the forwards if not try and get the better of the pack which is where games are won and lost. It’s a rare game that your forwards get dominated and you manage to win.
“We’ll look to go after New Zealand, as I am sure they will us, up front and we will look to get sufficient ball to provide some very exciting outside backs with some scoring opportunities.
“New Zealand are obviously hugely confident in the team they’ve selected. We’ll just quietly sit in the background and hope that the experience we have in the likes of (John) Hayes, Donncha O’Callaghan, Mick O’Driscoll’s coming in not having played for a couple of years but we know what he’s capable of.
“They can at least match, if not get the better of the New Zealand front five.”