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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

O’Callaghan: Support Was Incredible

O’Callaghan: Support Was Incredible

Ireland lock Donncha O’Callaghan took time out to speak to IrishRugby.ie on a rest day for the squad as they recover from their exertions in Auckland and prepare for the next Pool C match against Russia.

The Ireland squad enjoyed a down day following the transfer of their team base from Auckland to the beautiful surroundings of Lake Taupo as they prepare for their Rugby World Cup Pool C game against Russia on Sunday.

Second row Donncha O’Callaghan was certainly keen on getting the balance right between rest and work.

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“With a bit of a longer turnaround this week than we had for the Australia game, it’s great to be able to have that extra day to let the bumps and bruises settle before we hit the training pitch again. Some guys might head out for a look around Taupo,” he said.

“The area sounds a little bit like Queenstown, with some really good outdoor activities to help the lads relax.

“Others might be happy to hang around the hotel, so It’s good to have that flexibility and the down days have been great whether we do something together as a group or do our own thing.”

O’Callaghan also spoke about the mood in the Ireland camp after their historic win over Australia on Saturday, admitting: “There was an incredible buzz around the lads when we were setting off from Auckland to come down here (Taupo).

“You sort of expect that after a good win, but something we have all been chatting about is that we need to remain focused on the job at hand.

“Our goal has always been to qualify from our pool and just because we had a big win on Saturday night, it guarantees us nothing.

“We have two games left against two teams who will challenge us physically across the park, so we want to get ourselves right for that.

“We worked really hard last week with the coaches both on and off the pitch to get things right. The work ethic was always very high over the last couple of months, but it was about making sure we did that work justice by delivering it on the pitch.

“I think we managed to do that, but the challenge is now to keep the standards of our preparations up this week to reach the Russia game in as good a shape as possible.”

Speaking about the team selection for the game against Russia, O’Callaghan commented: “We don’t know what the coaches have in mind for selection (for the Russia game), but there is such a good vibe at the moment, with lads busting a gut on the training field wanting to be involved, I don’t think anybody will want to be left out for the Russia game.”

The genial Corkman also paid tribute to the level of support that the squad have experienced both on and off the pitch during the World Cup so far.

“The amount of green in the stadium was incredible on Saturday night at Eden Park, just as it was in New Plymouth,” he added.

“Even the days before the games, the numbers of ex-patriates and travelling Irish as well as local people, shops and bars that we saw supporting Ireland was great.

“It has all added to create incredible atmospheres and hopefully we can get similar support in Rotorua this coming weekend.”

Follow the Ireland team in New Zealand on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.