Monday 22 January 2018

O'Driscoll's Copacabana swansong hits right note as Kiss draws line in sand

Les Kiss
Les Kiss
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

WITH a rendition of Barry Manilow's 'Copacabana', Brian O'Driscoll drew a line under his own celebrations and the focus of the Ireland camp returned to the team.

Les Kiss yesterday revealed that the former captain performed his party piece in the dressing-room after the Italy game, but reckons that the lure of a championship has captured the imagination of the squad ahead of Saturday's Six Nations finale in Paris.

The Australian confirmed that Peter O'Mahony, Cian Healy and Conor Murray had all come through training fully at a sun-kissed Carton House yesterday, and it is expected that Munster captain O'Mahony coming in for Iain Henderson will be the only change to the starting XV to face France.

"We all joined in to help him out, let's put it that way," Kiss said of O'Driscoll's singing performance. "No, he was good. I won't talk too loudly on the vocals or chords.

"Brian is not one to be playing on it any further. He's already on to the next business, and that's how it's been too since we came back."

As for selection, Kiss said there was still room for change even if it appears unlikely. "We had a meeting last night – Joe (Schmidt), Plum (forwards coach John Plumtree) and myself – and we discussed some aspects of selection to date.

"(It was) not so much an audit, but we looked at things the way they are, looked at the risk factor around a trip to France and the type of threat they do pose, not only their starting team but their bench. You know they can shift it up pretty quickly, so we had a good discussion about it.

"Today's focus was on defence, we know they can pose a threat there. We'll have a look at the (footage of training) for the rest of today and for tonight and we will make some decisions from there.

"We are cognisant of the fact there is some continuity rather than just personnel changes, so we are just trying to be as flexible as possible when we sit down and discuss it, what combinations there are, what's coming off the bench, what type of threats they pose and what way to handle it."

The increased use and impact of the bench has been a feature of Ireland's Six Nations so far.

Replacement hooker Sean Cronin was one of three players to come off the bench and score a try against the Italians last weekend and he says the replacements are made to feel they have an important role to play.

"It's hammered home that we're the closers or the finishers," he said.

"Joe's hammering it home during the week that we're the guys that could make the difference if the game is close or we're there to finish off the job. That's reassuring for us."

Irish Independent

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