Sport Rugby

Sunday 22 April 2018

O'Brien urges Ireland to summon 'madness' and stop over-thinking

When Sean O'Brien calls for a bit of "madness" before Ireland face the New Zealand All Blacks, he probably didn't have in mind Cian Healy's gift-wrapped invitation to stoke up Kiwi anger by dissing the Haka.

Motivation should emanate from within the Ireland camp – it is not as if they haven't a surfeit of reasons to drive themselves on, beginning with their miserable winless streak against tomorrow's opponents.

Motivation closer to home stems from their dismal display last weekend, which many in the Ireland camp appeared to brush off this week as "easily rectifiable"; news to all those Irish supporters shelling out money to see their country lose meekly more than they win.

They want to see more action and less mealy mouthed excuses; if defeat is inevitable tomorrow, as history and logic decrees, then fans want to see more defiance at the very least.

"We have to have great belief," says O'Brien. "We have to bring that emotion and that bit of madness that we have in ourselves at times and try and do a job on these lads.

"At the end of the day, it's 15 against 15 and I've seen in the past that when we bring a bit of emotion and loads of energy to a game, we're right up there with any team. So I think that's what you'll see this week. Hopefully we can bring that."

Coach Joe Schmidt has emphasised his "dispassionate" nature on game day; last week, too much of this was transferred to the players, leading to information overload and a denial of passion.

"This week, it's been very clear from the start of the week what way we're going to play," says O'Brien.

"I don't think that's an excuse either but I think for some lads, maybe they were over-thinking things a little bit.

"We just need to bring that energy, without going out and taking the head off someone and losing your discipline.

"From our side of things, we are not going to sit back and try to defend the All Blacks, that won't work.

"We're going to have to attack and attack in our own way that's good for us and really go after the game."

Having lost his place last week, Gordon D'Arcy is a lucky beneficiary of Schmidt's selection in many people's eyes, with the acknowledgment that his defensive solidity has edged him the berth.

As he nears the end of his career, D'Arcy has become much more vocal in the way that he references his own self-motivation.

"Performing well just isn't good enough for us," he insists.

"If it was, I wouldn't be here. I say that as humbly as possible, but that's what drives us – to be the best and to win. I'm not saying this because it's a press conference, but I can't go into a game and just hope to perform well.

"I go into a game wanting to win every moment and every battle that's in it. And if we don't, then what's the point?

"You can't help but be competitive. I'm the same when I'm playing cards with my family – I always get competitive with them.

"You can't help it. It just comes out in you and I think that's what drives us. It comes from somewhere, that competitiveness, and you just can't help it.

"I'm a lot more vocal about it now because you have to be because I'm one of the senior players. I can't be the guy who just switches into a game player.

"You have to set the standards because other people look to you and see how you approach games and training.

"You've got to show the next generation and the people around you that this is how we do it. You fight for everything.

"The onus is on me to perform and next week when there's a fallout from this game, and if I haven't deserved it, then I know the only person to blame will be myself."


David Kelly

Irish Independent

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