Monday 19 March 2018

Video: O'Brien looking to target Dusautoir as Irish sights set on 'getting in their faces'

Donnchadh Boyle

Donnchadh Boyle

IT was suggested to Sean O'Brien that if he didn't golf, he could go and plough up one of the many acres around Carton House to pass the time before tomorrow night's major showdown with France in Paris.

O'Brien retorted that there was no sense of cabin fever in the Irish camp but there was a definite sobriety to proceedings at yesterday's team announcement in Maynooth.

A trip to Paris -- where Ireland have won only once in 40 years -- can have that effect on a team that first had to absorb the gut-wrenching defeat to Wales and then have the game's decisive moment effectively rubbished in a committee room during Stephen Ferris' citing hearing this week.

"I was inside him and I just remember thinking it was a good tackle," O'Brien remembered of Ferris' hit on Ian Evans.

"Then the whistle blew and I was thinking, 'what is he doing that for?' It was a perfect tackle, good technique.

"He didn't tip your man on his head or anything. It doesn't make us think twice about tackling guys, no."

Ferris' clearance to play this weekend sees the Irish back-row, which was being hailed as arguably the best in the world after the World Cup win over Australia, face the unit that held that title by the tournament's end.

Imanol Harinordoquy comes in at open-side beside No 8 Louis Picamoles and the current World Player of the Year Thierry Dusautoir, who will do their best to make a first start in Stade de France a forgettable one for O'Brien and Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray.

"I don't think the venue holds any fears for any of the lads, to be honest," said O'Brien.

"I was on the bench the last time we were over there but didn't get on.

"The atmosphere was incredible and it is a great place to play, from speaking to the lads.

"Dusautoir is one of the best out there -- he really showed what he can do in the World cup final. He's such a consistent performer. He's a hard fella, tough man to get down when he carries.

"He goes around just smashing lads. That's what he's done year in year out.

"Around the ruck he is so strong when he gets in over the ball. I'll have to keep an eye on him and target him when I get an opportunity."

The almost traditional slow start against France in the past was repeatedly referenced throughout the media briefing and O'Brien insisted Ireland will seek to dictate the tempo from the off.

"I don't think there is a containment tactic," he said. "If you try and contain France they are going to destroy you. It's as simple as that.

"We really have to go after them from the word go, put them under pressure and play in the right areas of the field. You have to be smart. Defence is going to be a massive part of it this weekend.

"Last weekend we sat back on our heels a bit too much and gave up too many easy yards.

"You have to take space away from these lads and they are a big, physical team as well. We have to get up in their faces and shut them down at source.

"Preparation has been pretty good this week. There is a little bit of bite to it and lads are getting on to each other about standards and stuff. That's good.

"The right attitude is there this week."

The game plan is in place. The traditional captain's run has been cancelled due to the freezing conditions in the French capital, which could go below minus 10 degrees Celsius -- which O'Brien has some experience of from his other 'occupation'.

"I farmed in it when it was down to minus 15 last year at home," he added.

"It will be different playing at them temperatures but it shouldn't affect us.

"We've to stick to our game plan and the weather shouldn't take from that, so long as it's not spilling rain. It's just something we have to adapt to."

Irish Independent

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