O'Driscoll desperate to make lansdowne home 'a fortress'
IRELAND return to their Lansdowne Road home this evening to take on world champions South Africa with captain Brian O'Driscoll issuing a call-to-arms to turn the redeveloped stadium into a fortress, WRITES HUGH FARRELLY.
The team has not played in the world's oldest international ground since they defeated the Pacific Islands there in November 2006 and O'Driscoll spoke yesterday of the excitement in the squad ahead of their homecoming.
"As great as it was being at Croke Park and lucky as we felt being allowed to play there, this is where we belong," said O'Driscoll.
"It might look vastly different to when we last played here, but this is essentially the home of Irish rugby. We want to make it a difficult place to come and play but because of the surroundings that will be more difficult. Now it's a more aesthetically pleasing place for teams to come. It's the players' job to make it a difficult place to come.
"We do that through the brand of rugby we play and the standards that we set ourselves. We hope to get off to winning ways and create a fortress here."
Both teams want to put a disappointing run of results behind them and O'Driscoll's counterpart Victor Matfield said the Springboks feel the fact that they have been written off in many quarters is providing extra motivation.
"We haven't won here in 10 years. We have a job to do. We are not concerned if we are the favourites or the underdogs," said Matfield. "We might not have the most experienced side, but we believe we have enough talent to pull this one through."
South Africa confirmed yesterday that Jean de Villiers was fit to take his place in midfield. The squad had their jerseys presented to them by former Springbok and ex-Greystones scrum-half Dan van Zyl, who was captain when Matfield wore the South African jersey for the first time during a midweek game on tour to Argentina in 2000.