Tuesday 20 March 2018

O'Driscoll prepared for Samoa stampede

Brian O'Driscoll has told Ireland to expect some typically ferocious tackling from Samoa at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.

The Pacific islanders, who are embarking on a three-Test tour of the UK and Ireland, are renowned for their bone-jarring hits as executed by the likes of Alesana Tuilagi and Seilala Mapusua.

While O'Driscoll has seen first hand the damage they can do, he insists their kamikaze style can leave gaps to be exploited.

"We don't have a huge amount of footage on Samoa but we do know some of their personnel, particularly the guys playing in England," said Ireland's captain.

"The one thing you get with Pacific islands teams is huge physicality.

"Their players are capable of putting a hole in you if you run directly at them.

"That being said, you must be aware of the shooters that can come out of their defence on occasion.

"Sometimes you have to play smarter, if their line speed is huge then play the ball behind them.

"But at the same time we shouldn't be afraid to play if the conditions allow us to."

O'Driscoll leads a new-look Ireland side which shows 10 changes to the team defeated 23-21 by South Africa last weekend.

Despite the upheaval in personal, there is only one debutant in towering second row Devin Toner and O'Driscoll has given his 6ft 10in Leinster colleague some advice on adapting to Test rugby.

"Everyone talks about Devin's line-out prowess but he has really come to the fore as a ball-carrier," he said.

"You trust your front five to be the workhorses of the team and he's bought into that in a big way.

"It's a fantastic opportunity for him to come in and stake a claim for a spot. It's fully deserved.

"People have to do their apprenticeships and Dev has done that by coming through the grade levels.

"I'll tell him that he's been picked because of his provincial form, so back yourself with that.

"Don't play differently because you're pulling on an international jersey.

"It will probably be the proudest moment of his life, but once the whistle blows it's the same size pitch with the same number of players.

"The intensity will be a bit higher and he'll know that from the kick-off, but you get into things very quickly.

"The first cap passes you by very quickly so you have to enjoy it as much as possible.

"Hopefully the team will give him a winning start."

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