O'Connell ready for emotion-charged opener
September 10, 2011
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell claims a lineout during training ahead of their World Cup opener © Getty Images
Ireland lock Paul O'Connell has admitted that the fact that their clash with the USA falls on the ten-year anniversay of 9/11 will make the Eagles even more formidable opponents in Sunday's Rugby World Cup Pool C clash in New Plymouth.
A minute's silence will be held before the game at Stadium Taranaki while both sides will wear black armbands to mark what will doubtless be a highly emotional occasion for the Americans, who are also set to attend a memorial service for the victims of the terrorist attacks on New York a decade ago.
Consequently, O'Connell is expecting the Eagles to bring a special level of passion and pride to the proceedings when the game finally does get underway.
"It's a very poignant occasion," he said. "Hopefully it will be a good game that's well remembered. You use everything you can to motivate yourself and I'm sure they'll have it channeled in the right way."
And O'Connell revealed that he and his team-mates had been discussing the significance of the occasion themselves.
"A lot of guys asked each other at dinner during the week where they were when it (9/11) happened," the Munster lock said. "We're certainly aware of it. It focuses our minds as well because we know how motivated they'll be for the occasion.
Indeed, USA scrum-half Mike Petri, who was born and raised in New York, confessed that he expects the game to be a very poignant one for the Eagles and their many compatriots around the world.
"It's obviously a very significant day for us and for all our fans and supporters back home," he said. "It will be very emotional and I do believe that it can only be a positive thing for us to follow that emotion.
"The opportunity to represent your country on such a day as September 11, albeit the 10th anniversary of the attacks, is a huge honour.
"I'm really looking forward to paying some respects to all the Americans around the world who are affected or not affected by what has happened. It's certainly come to the forefront lately. I'm reminded of it all the time when I'm back home.
"One of my best friends lost his father. He was a firemen and was killed. Guys I grew up with lost brothers and family members. There are constant reminders all the time. I pass by Ground Zero almost daily.
"You live with those things every day. With this game coming up, there has certainly been a bit more attention to it publicly."
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