Wednesday 20 September 2017

O'Driscoll and new-look Irish aiming to sow doubt in minds of All Blacks

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland leads the team around the field during Ireland's captain's run at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images
Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland leads the team around the field during Ireland's captain's run at Eden Park in Auckland, New Zealand. Photo: Getty Images

Hugh Farrelly In Auckland

IRELAND captain Brian O'Driscoll wants to rekindle the spirit of 2004 against the All Blacks tomorrow by catching the world champions "on the hop" in Eden Park.

Eight years ago, O'Driscoll captained an Ireland side that stunned England at Twickenham in the hosts' first game since capturing the 2003 World Cup.

There are echoes of that day in tomorrow's game, New Zealand's first since ending a 24-year wait for the Webb Ellis trophy, and it has been set up as a celebration of that success with Ireland widely expected to be heavily beaten.

However, O'Driscoll, who will be facing the All Blacks for the 11th time and is yet to taste victory, says that if Declan Kidney's side can stay with the world champions in the first half, there is a chance to achieve something special.

"Those that were involved in 2004 will remember it," agreed the 33-year-old. "I can't speak from the position of being a world champion and knowing the mentality afterwards, but I'm sure New Zealand have huge pride coming back to Eden Park.

"Sometimes there's the chance of catching them on the hop, and getting out of the blocks early. We have to really look at getting after them, trying to sow some sort of seed of doubt in their heads.

"You just have to give yourself a fighting chance in the last 10-15 minutes to be within a score."

Ireland coach Kidney sprung a few surprises by leaving out established players Gordon D'Arcy, Andrew Trimble and Donncha O'Callaghan in favour of Simon Zebo, Fergus McFadden and Dan Tuohy, and O'Driscoll believes it is a team that will attack the home side, saying: "You have to play and be very attack-minded, if you try and defend against the All Blacks, they will kill you."

See big match preview, p62-63

Irish Independent

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