Friday 23 March 2018

Edwards baffled by O'Driscoll criticism

THE Welsh camp have laughed off Irish supporters' criticisms of captain Brian O'Driscoll ahead of this week's Triple Crown clash between the sides in Cardiff, writes David Kelly.

Defence coach Shaun Edwards was baffled yesterday when alerted to criticism of the former Lions captain following the narrow Irish win against Scotland two weekends ago.

"I've coached him with the Lions and he's one of the best players I've ever coached," said Edwards. "I don't know who's been criticising him, but if people have been they must have been pretty good players themselves to criticise Brian O'Driscoll. He's still got it."

Edwards expects Ronan O'Gara to be retained at out-half in today's Irish team announcement, with coach Declan Kidney likely to stick closely to the side that defeated Scotland last time out.

However, in a nod to Jonny Sexton, Edwards believes that the Irish can threaten with either player in the pivotal position. "It does change you a bit. They are players with different styles, but I'm expecting Rog to start after the way he played against Scotland.

"If you're an international fly-half you are going to be a good kicker. O'Gara is an exceptional kicker, but Jonathan Sexton is excellent with the boot as well.

"So it's the case that when you are playing at this level, you'd expect the No 10 to be more than adequate in that department. O'Gara kicks it at the right time, when he's playing for Munster and it's raining.

"I've seen many Heineken Cup games that he's controlled with his right boot, but I'm sure Jonathan Sexton has done the same for Leinster. Ireland were red hot in the first half at Murrayfield, before Scotland came back. They also scored three tries against France, which is an exceptional effort. They struggled against Italy but they're playing a lot of expansive rugby and are scoring tries against strong teams."

Irish Independent

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