O'Driscoll confident of Wallabies upset
June 22, 2010
Ireland talisman Brian O'Driscoll has backed his side to upset the Wallabies in Brisbane © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has backed his side to heap woe on Australia with victory over their hosts in Brisbane Saturday.
O'Driscoll leads his side into action following back-to-back losses at the hands of the All Blacks and the New Zealand Maori but is confident they can upset the Wallabies who suffered at the hands of England last weekend.
Ireland have not won a game on Australian soil since 1979 and have not tasted victory since beating Wales in March and will be facing a fired-up Australia side looking for redemption. O'Driscoll, while fully aware of the magnitude of the task at hand, was adamant that the Irish had the strength to end their season on a positive note.
"We feel that we have the capabilities if we play to our strengths and play the way we know we can," he said. "Needless to say it'll be an extremely tough Test match, it always is against Australia. We haven't won since 1979 ... it's a long time to not pick up a result and it just shows the difficulty we've had down here. But the next opportunity is the best one to take and try to overturn the slide of defeats. It'll take a big effort, but I know the capabilities of this squad and team and it's certainly within our grasp."
Ireland will field just four players from the starting side that went down to New Zealand Maori on their last outing, opting to retain Niall Ronan at flanker, No.8 Chris Henry who will make his Test debut, Paddy Wallace at inside centre and most notably Jonathan Sexton at fly-half. Sexton's selection comes at the expense of the more experienced Ronan O'Gara, with coach Declan Kidney handing the Leinster pivot a start with an eye to the future and as a reward for good form.
"(Choosing the fly-half is) the same as it was for a number of positions. We've got a few players looking for places now," said Kidney. "We felt it was an opportunity to give Jonathan this run, he's been playing well so I just decided to go with him this time."
Sexton, who kicked an impressive 23 points against the Maori, will be opposed by a red-hot Quade Cooper for Australia, but his captain believes he has the skill and style to take the game to the vaunted Wallabies backline.
"(Sexton's) basics are very good, he's a big physical guy and he's a smart footballer too," said O'Driscoll. "He's nice to play outside of, because he's a nice passer of the ball and he probably has the mindset of trying to run the ball wherever possible."
Playing outside Sexton in the number 12 jersey will be Paddy Wallace who, in a similar vein, has been selected at the expense of a more experienced rival in Gordon D'Arcy, and after a good showing against the Maori.
"We've been trying to develop our squad; Paddy got the opportunity in the second half of the Barbarians match after having been out for a few weeks," added Kidney. "He sat out the New Zealand match, and then played well against the Maori, so it's really more a case of giving Paddy a go because I feel he deserves it."
For Ireland's debutant Henry selection has come on the back of impressive performances for Ireland A in 2009, and marks the fulfilment of a childhood dream for the Ulster skipper.
"It means everything. Since I was a youngster it was something I dreamed of," he said. "It's been an exciting week and I can't wait to get on the pitch and throw myself into the game. You always fantasise about it when you're young and watching the teams, so it's definitely a big dream come true and it means a lot to myself and my whole family. Hopefully it'll be a special day and one I'll always remember."
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter