O'Brien: Still plenty to play for
Published 15/02/2013 | 08:41
Flanker Sean O'Brien insists Ireland must be ready to pounce on any errors by their RBS 6 Nations title rivals when they resume their championship against Scotland.
England are in the driving seat following their 12-6 victory in Dublin on Saturday and the only unbeaten team remaining in an unpredictable tournament. The defeat at the Aviva Stadium was deflating for Ireland, who have lost Jonathan Sexton and Mike McCarthy to injury for the trip to Murrayfield - but O'Brien refuses to give up hope.
"There's still a lot to play for. The Six Nations is and it isn't out of our own hands," the Leinster openside said. "If we leave ourselves in the best possible shape, there will be a slip-up somewhere for the other teams down the line."
He added: "Anyone can beat anyone on any day. If we leave ourselves in the best possible position, we can do no more than that."
Ireland will also be missing Cian Healy in Edinburgh after the loosehead prop was banned for three matches for his stamp on England's Dan Cole.
Although there is confusion over whether Healy can play for Leinster on Saturday, he is definitely unavailable against Scotland and France, subject to any successful appeal.
Sexton has a grade two hamstring tear that usually requires four to six weeks to heal, making him a major doubt to face France in the penultimate round of fixtures, while McCarthy has damaged the medial ligament of his right knee and will be in a brace for two weeks, at the end of which his fitness will be reassessed.
More positive news was received on the remaining injuries incurred during a brutal clash against England. O'Brien, centre Brian O'Driscoll, full-back Rob Kearney and lock Donnacha Ryan are at varying degrees of fitness, but all should be available to face Scotland.
"We're looking forward to getting back on the horse against Scotland. It's a good game for both teams," O'Brien said. "Our errors, as a team and as individuals, stand out from the England game. They cost us.
"A few of them happened within minutes of each other and put us under a bit of pressure and they kicked a couple of scores from that."