O'Driscoll wants new fortress
November 5, 2010
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll insists his side must start the process of transforming their new Aviva Stadium into a fortress.
The Irish make their debut at the new-look Lansdowne Road against South Africa on Saturday following a £320million redevelopment of Test rugby's oldest ground. O'Driscoll admits it is the team's responsibility to make it an intimidating arena as opponents will appreciate the quality of the stadium.
"The prospect of being back home is hugely exciting and we do see the ground as our home," said the captain. "As great as it was being at Croke Park and lucky as we felt being allowed to play there, this is where we belong.
"It might look vastly different to when we last played here but this is essentially the home of Irish rugby. We want to make it a difficult place to come and play but because of the surroundings that will be more difficult.
"Coming into the old Lansdowne Road there were gale force winds to help out and opposition teams weren't used to playing in the conditions. Now it's a more aesthetically pleasing place for teams to come into. It will be easier to play in the environment created here so it's the players' job to make it a difficult place to come.
"We do that through the brand of rugby we play and the standards that we set ourselves. We hope to get off to winning ways and create a fortress here."
Ireland start as marginal favourites as they target a fourth successive victory against the Springboks. Grand Slam-chasing South Africa have lost 13 players to injury and finished bottom of the Tri-Nations table.
If Ireland have serious intentions of being a force at next year's World Cup they must dispatch the wounded tourists in convincing fashion. However, defeat would be highly demoralising, extending by one a sequence of five straight losses, three of them Tests.
The Springboks look highly vulnerable, but O'Driscoll refuses to underestimate them.
"I've never seen a poor touring Springboks team and I don't envisage them being any different this weekend," he said. "Having lost the last three games in Dublin I'm sure they'll be trying to make a point of changing that.
"They have large numbers who play in South Africa and have lots of quality. Some of the guys have a wealth experience against top teams, playing against New Zealand and Australia a number of times. Guys like Bismarck du Plessis and Bakkies Botha are back and the Springboks are always tough."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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