Posted by: theswissjob | September 3, 2007

The first hurdle…

Extracts of an interview with Paul O’Connell have surfaced on the IRFU website. Paul has made it clear, in no un-certain terms that Ireland will be doing everything in their power to put the “fear of God” into Namibia and Georgia in the first two pool games.

The standard responses were issued relating to whether the team would be underestimating their opposition:

“We’ll be treating the first two games very seriously. It would be foolish to dismiss anyone in this tournament, it has never been our way and it never will be.”

When asked about the lacklustre results in the warm up games O’Connell also comes out with the standard response:

“…the real time to show form is in the pool matches and the knock-out stages and hopefully we can do that.”

Not giving too much away then! I’m still unsure how Eddie and the team in general are going to play it. I read Brent Pope’s column at the weekend that claimed Ireland have the worst type of fixture list. According to Popey teams need an easy game, followed by a tough game, followed by an easy game and then when they’re peaking, the toughest match. Not like Ireland’s group where the toughest two games are last.

I’m not sure I agree, given the stop-start nature of our warm up fixtures. The team still needs a little time to settle in and a few cricket scores in the opening games could settle the nerves. But will Eddie risk it all and put out the first fifteen in the opening two games?

In a group where points difference could decide the qualifiers I think he may go for a mixed approach. He’ll want the backs firing and so I can see a full strength backline on display (minus O’Driscoll and with Murphy at full back). But I think he’ll keep a few of the forwards (Hayes, O’Callaghan, Best maybe) in reserve for the big games against the French and Argentinians.

What do you think? Play it safe or would you go for gold?

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Responses

  1. I think Eddie will name his strongest 15 for the first game. He will want to give the players much needed confidence before taking on France and Argentina. The games against Namibia and Georgia are just what the doctor ordered. A hatful of tries will lift their spirits and push them on for the crunch games later.

    He may use one or two fringe players for the Georgia game but I expect him to play our strongest 15 from the start of both matches and use the fringe players as impact subs.

    Once David Wallace, Shane Horgan and Brian O’Driscoll come back into the frame, the team should have a sharper edge to their performances. By all accounts, Wallace is back in full training and our opening two matches should be perfect run outs for him. O’Driscoll seems to have made a miraculous recovery from his broken nose and there is talk of him starting against Namibia.

    Eddie knows the importance O’Driscoll’s presence is to this Irish team in terms of leadership and sheer class so I think he will try to start him if at all possible.


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