Monday 23 April 2018

Paul O'Connell: If you're injured you move out and we move on, injuries are no excuse

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell in action during the captain's run ahead of their Autumn International match against South Africa on Saturday
Ireland captain Paul O'Connell in action during the captain's run ahead of their Autumn International match against South Africa on Saturday
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

PAUL O’CONNELL says Ireland have to put their lengthy injury list out of their minds as they prepare to face the Springboks tomorrow.

Although the likes of Rory Best, Sean O’Brien and Cian Healy won’t be in the team at the Aviva Stadium, the captain won’t be using the absentees as an excuse come kick-off.

Instead, the Munster second-row is focusing on the positives.

“With Joe (Schmidt)’s style of doing things, you’re injured your out. Move on,” he said after taking his team on the captain's run at Lansdowne Road.

“It’s not an issue, you move on to the next player. We are lucky in Ireland with strength in depth, injuries have probably contributed to that.

“We haven’t really discussed it, we’ve a really good pack, good forwards. There is inexperience, but there’s experience around that as well. It’s not something you think about you just get on with it.

“When we get those guys back it will be a bonus, another group of guys have gathered experience.

“You look at this challenge this weekend, South Africa pretty much just blitzed New Zealand, beat them in a big game. It’s a massive challenge.  For the guys who are picked like Sean Cronin and Jack McGrath in the absence of Cian Healy and Rory Best, it’s a huge international a massive opportunity.

“It’s the kind of game, there’s probably very few for me in the future, but they’re the games you dream of. Some of my best memories in rugby are Ireland versus South Africa, the Lions in South Africa. They’re a brilliant rugby nation.

“We’re not thinking about the injuries, we’re looking forward to tomorrow.”

Forwards coach Simon Easterby said he had no concerns about the fitness of Mike Ross, saying he was confident the tighthead prop would come through despite coming off more than a month out with a groin injury.

Given they haven’t been together since June and started slowly last November, O’Connell warned that there would be mistakes at the Aviva Stadium.

However, the skipper reckons the correct attitude would get Ireland a long way.

“I don’t think you’ll ever be perfect in a game, you always strive to be perfect,” he said. “Balls will go down on the ground, you’ve got to win those. We’ve been in so many games where that has been won or lost you games, particularly against a team like South Africa who are so dangerous off loose ball. They attack from deep.

“You don’t have to perfect, your attitude and mental resolve has to be perfect but it’s very hard to play a perfect game of rugby. We’ve discussed that, we have to react. There will be mistakes from them and from us, but reacting to that is a good part of how you perform on the day.”

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