Sport Rugby

Saturday 30 August 2014

Ireland can still win the title, insists O'Driscoll

Conor George

Published 23/02/2013 | 04:00

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Generation game: Brian O’Driscoll and Ronan O’Gara keep at watchful eye on young guns Craig Gilroy, Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson as assistant coach Les Kiss makes a point during the Irish training session at Carton House

IRELAND can still win the Six Nations, according to a defiant Brian O'Driscoll.

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Ireland's greatest ever player has challenged his team-mates to rise to the challenge and take the first steps in breathing fresh life into their season in Murrayfield tomorrow.

"Without a shadow of a doubt, there's a championship there for a team that's winning and wants to win four out of five games," he said.

And, interestingly, O'Driscoll believes that Ireland's chances of winning only their 12th championship might actually be improved now that the pressure of a Grand Slam bid has evaporated following the home defeat to England.

"The problem when you win the first game, now, since 2009, is immediately everyone starts talking about Grand Slams," he said.

"Now that's gone, we can definitely relax a little bit and there's still a lot to be played for.

"We might find a few teams at the end of it on four wins, it's just a matter of getting back to the consistency of performance that we had against Wales."

O'Driscoll is convinced that Ireland can determine their own destiny by eradicating the errors that were present in the loss to England.

"If we can think about getting our processes right and getting our game right, I'm a big believer that they will then take care of the result," he said.

"I'm a big fan of not really worrying about what happens when the clock goes to red at 80 minutes but what happens in each minute as you play the game."

Ireland have scored 25 tries in their last 12 Tests, a statistic O'Driscoll believes the team can take a lot of confidence from.

"The philosophy we play by is not to just try and play ourselves into position to kick points," he said.

"We want to score tries, we want to express ourselves and we want to be able to entertain where we can.

"First and foremost you have to do the hard yards, you have to earn the right to be able to score tries."

O'Driscoll's vast reservoir of experience will help balance the callowness of 21-year-old debutants Luke Marshall and Paddy Jackson.

And he laughed when he recalled Jackson's comments earlier in the week when the out-half spoke of his memories of being a pre-teen when first inspired by O'Driscoll.

"I don't think he knew how big an insult it was to reference how young he was when he first saw me play," chuckled O'Driscoll.

Jackson's selection has been the most talked about this week. O'Driscoll has no worries about his ability to step up to the necessary level tomorrow, saying: "Granted it's a bigger stage but he's a clever footballer who is able to identify when it's not on. He's been going well all week in training and has grown into the role. They'll both be fine."

Irish Independent

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