Tuesday 20 March 2018

Ireland's mind games

Hugh Farrelly

Ireland will aim to play on England's Grand Slam jitters when the countries clash in Saturday's sold-out Six Nations showdown at Lansdowne Road.

The English arrive in Dublin desperate to secure their first Grand Slam since manager Martin Johnson captained them to glory at the old Lansdowne Road eight years ago, and Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll says it is up to the home team to take advantage of any England nerves.

"They'll have some nerves like you would in any Grand Slam game. It's our job to try and bring those nerves out and compound them a bit," said O'Driscoll, who was also captain when Johnson's men triumphed in 2003.

"Just because you find yourself in the big occasion, it doesn't mean you're owed anything. You still have to grind it out on the big occasion too.

"I don't know too many of the England guys on the team so I don't know what their mentality is or whether there is a new, young breed coming through and they are full of confidence.

"We wish we were in a Grand Slam decider game with England, but that's not the case. We've lost two games.

"It's not just as if a one-off decision last week has cost us. You just get on with it, treat it as another great opportunity to produce the performance we feel is in us and try and get one over a very impressive England team."

O'Driscoll leads an Ireland team that shows two personnel changes and one positional switch from the team that lost 19-13 to Wales in Cardiff last weekend, with Jonathan Sexton coming in at out-half for Ronan O'Gara and Andrew Trimble starting at left wing, with Keith Earls switching to full-back and Luke Fitzgerald dropping out.

Eoin Reddan is named at scrum-half pending the results of a medical examination following his head injury against Wales, with Peter Stringer named on the bench and Isaac Boss available to come into the match-22 if required.

The Art of Confusion -- Hugh Farrelly on the mixed messages sent by Declan Kidney's selection policy.

see pages 6-7

Irish Independent

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