O'Callaghan desperate to make amends
September 4, 2011
Ireland lock Donncha O'Callaghan is hoping to exorcise a few demons in New Zealand © Getty Images
Donncha O'Callaghan has admitted that he and his fellow survivors from Ireland's last World Cup campaign are determined to right a few wrongs in New Zealand.
The Irish, under the guidance of Eddie O'Sullivan, travelled to France four years ago regarded by many as a side capable of reaching the last four. However, they suffered an embarrassing exit in the pool stages after defeats by France and Argentina. Even their two victories, over minnows Namibia and Georgia, were painfully laboured.
Consequently, less is expected of Ireland this time around, not least because Declan Kidney's troops go into the tournament on the back of four successive defeats. O'Callaghan, though, insists that many members of the squad will be driven by the pain of 2007 and are determined to make amends for their dismal displays.
"You don't want to get to the biggest competition of your life and fall flat on your face," he said. "The scars of France have stayed with us all. It was a scarring event in our careers.
"It was hugely disappointing because you arrive with such promise and all the dreams of doing well. So to come up short.... there's no worse feeling. It took me a lot of time to get over that and some of us still haven't.
"A lot of us pretend 2007 was a leap year, that nothing actually happened during that year! We might as well have taken a year out given the way we played. We have a good squad with good players but we haven't done ourselves justice.
"This is the big show, there is nothing bigger than a World Cup. This is the one we've been dreaming of since we were kids. There are times in your career when you have to front up. We managed that in the Grand Slam game against Wales in 2009.
"Before people thought Irish teams choke at big events, but beating Wales was the result that over-turned that perception. Big games can be the highlight of your career, or the most scarring event."
O'Callaghan believes that Ireland's players made the mistake of getting ahead of themselves in France and paid the price for their complacency.
"If we start looking beyond the first game, which we did four years ago, we'll fall flat on our face. Hopefully we're in a better place now," he said.
"If you look at our track record we've often been disappointing and then maybe been able to put in a massive performance or a few together. But the big thing is that we know that now. Now we have to do whatever it takes to win.
"It might be ugly and poor to watch but no one back home would care if we advanced playing that type of rugby. We need to gather momentum and get results."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'