Thursday 18 January 2018

O’Connell: Enthusiasm of uncapped players is infectious

Paul O'Connell has said the introduction of new faces to the Irish squad has had an immediate effect
Paul O'Connell has said the introduction of new faces to the Irish squad has had an immediate effect

Paul O’Connell has said the mood in the Irish camp is brimming with confidence and that the enthusiasm of the new faces is infectious.

Joe Schmidt named his 30-man squad for Argentina today with the likes of Sean O’Brien, Gordon D’Arcy, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tommy Bowe and Dan Tuohy given the summer off, while Leinster out-half Ian Madigan will be on the ‘Emerging Ireland’ tour of Romania.

Irish captain O’Connell, who will be making his first tour of Argentina says that the mood of the camp is high following the Six Nations and that the injection of new faces will greatly add to the competition.

Schmidt has named four uncapped players in Munster prop James Cronin, Connacht scrumhalf Kieran Marmion and Ulster ‘project players’ Robbie Diack and Rob Herring and O’Connell has seen the impact this has had already.

“I spoke to James Cronin on the phone last night, incredibly delighted and excited,” the Munster lock said today.

“That brought a smile to my face and there was a great buzz here this morning already.”

“I know James Cronin has been a pleasure to be around for Munster, his enthusiasm has been incredible.”

“It’s great, it’s always a great thing to see when you see guys with an asterisk beside their names with no caps. Their enthusiasm is infectious.”

While the season trailed off from a Munster perspective, O’Connell believes that the mood within the Irish squad is as good as it has ever been and the strong competition for places is exactly what the players require.

“It’s great to be back. the buzz around Irish camp after winning the Six Nations, the buzz around the new players who are here, it does gives you a lift.

“One of the big thing Joe had at Leinster was competition for places and when you look at the names travelling to Argentina hopefully it will add to competition for Ireland.”

O’Connell admitted it will be the start of a new era without Brian O’Driscoll, but that the players will move on like they have done in the past.

“It's obviously disappointing he's moved on but it's part of the cycle of seeing the likes of ROG and various players moving on in recent years as well. It's part of the cycle and you just have to get on with it.”

Declan Whooley

Madigan omitted as Joe Schmidt names four uncapped players for Argentina tour

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