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O'Brien ready to make his mark

Sean O'Brien has vowed to continue flattening opponents at the World Cup, declaring: "If there's no hole, I'll make one."

The bulldozing Leinster flanker is currently Ireland's outstanding performer with his destructive ball carrying seeing him crowned European player of the year. The 24-year-old knows he will come under close scrutiny from Ireland's Pool C rivals, but will deal with the attention in his own unique way.

"Looking for space is important to ball-carrying, as is evasion and getting your legs pumping when you hit contact," he said. "There are lots of ball carriers in this World Cup and I'm sure we'll all be marked closely."

He added: "That happened to me towards the end of the Six Nations. In the third game there were more lads coming towards me. But that creates opportunities for those around me - if we're smart enough to take advantage.

"I'm sure opponents will mark me up pretty well. That's something you have to deal with. If there aren't any holes, I'll just have to make one."

O'Brien is likely to start at openside when Ireland announce their team for Sunday's opener against the USA in the early hours of Friday morning.

The serious knee injury sustained by David Wallace against England last month has left a vacancy in the number seven jersey.

O'Brien has just recovered from his own knee problem and the management may yet decide not to risk him in a match Ireland are sure to win.

But if asked to fill Wallace's shoes, he is confident he will be able to adjust him game.

"I'm comfortable in all three positions in the back row. It doesn't bother me where we play," he said.

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