Sunday 19 August 2018

'They are not thinking championship. They are thinking slam' - Brian O'Driscoll on Ireland's grand ambitions

Joe Schmidt Photo: PA
Joe Schmidt Photo: PA

Brian O'Driscoll believes that Ireland should be targeting a Grand Slam this season after coming up just short in championship-winning campaigns in 2014 and 2015.

Ireland emerged triumphant in back-to-back Six Nations in Joe Schmidt's first two years in charge, but England and then Wales denied them a clean sweep.

This time around, Ireland are two games away from matching the teams of 1948 and 2009, and the Ireland legend believes that that is the target.

"They're not thinking Championship, they're really not thinking Championship," O'Driscoll told Off The Ball on Newstalk.

"They are thinking Slam. And they don't want to talk about it and all the questions being fielded - Joe Schmidt or anyone else that gets asked about - of course because you have to give the respect to Scotland as well that they do deserve particularly off the back of that performance against England. So if you do take an eye off that, you could become unstuck.

"But ultimately this team, the vast majority of them have two Championships and yes, the likes of Stockdale and the James Ryan that have come in but they have two Championships in '14 and '15 and what's eluded them is the Slam. That's all they're thinking about."   

The first obstacle to negotiate en route to a Grand Slam is the visit of Scotland to Dublin next Saturday, with O'Driscoll feeling that Gregor Townsend's side have yet to prove themselves away from home.

"It's set up magnificently for them now," he said.

"You have to give respect to Scotland, the way they played against England last weekend but the big question about Scotland is can they do it away from home which is something that has proved elusive to them for the last number of years."

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