Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

O'Sullivan expects his faith to pay dividends

Having dissected the nightmare of the Namibia game, Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan has done what he does when the heat is on - stick with with what he knows best.

In his view, there is no major surgery required, no slashing and burning of a side that has served him so well in winning three Triple Crown in four years.

The only change was entirely expected, with a fit-again Shane Horgan coming in for Andrew Trimble who misses the game in any event, having suffered a hairline fracture to his finger during the Namibian clash.

The injury is not serious however and the Ulster wing should be available for the crunch game against France in Paris on September 21.

" Shane had a good session on the park this morning and is champing at the bit. He would have played regardless of Andrew's injury," said O'Sullivan.

"Overall, training has been very good this week, but then it was very good last week yet we performed so badly against Namibia."

Despite the concerns over the clearing out of the ruck against both Italy in the warm-up game and against Namibia on Sunday, there was no return for Neil Best, a clear specialist, while Rory Best rightly holds onto his place at hooker.

Given that the big guns of France and Argentina lie in wait following the Georgian clash, it is difficult to see how any of the bench will now be involved significantly in the campaign save for any injuries.

"We have to build confidence in the team," said O'Sullivan, defending his decision not to make major changes.

"If you create an environment where a player feels one bad performance and they are dumped on the trash heap, you don't create any confidence in the team. They feel they have to go out and play and if they have the odd bad performance, they wear it and get a chance to fix it.

"I have always operated in that parameter. They have come off some bad performances before and I haven't made lots of changes. I have given the guys the chance to fix it. Call it over-loyal, but that's how I work it."

By sticking by the same side despite such a below par performance, the players owe their coach a huge effort against the Georgians, who with the majority of their side playing club rugby in France, will be a much tougher task than Namibia posed.

O'Sullivan is in no doubt that he will get the reaction he demands.

"It is not just what I have seen on the pitch. I know the team. I have known them all very well for a number of years. Talking to them after the game, they were very disappointed and very upset, bordering on angry with themselves for what they delivered on Sunday night. That's why I'm doing what I'm doing with the team," he said.

"The performance last week was more about 'between their ears' than anything else. We are not as bad as we looked on Sunday night. There is a lot more in this team.

"It is a long way off where we were in the Six Nations, that's a worrying thing. We would have hoped to have been further down the track in terms of performance levels. But we are not and you can't un-ring a bell."


Ireland:
G Dempsey, S Horgan, B O'Driscoll (capt), G D'Arcy, D Hickie, R O'Gara, P Stringer, M Horan, R Best, J Hayes, D O'Callaghan, P O'Connell, S Easterby, D Leamy, D Wallace.

Replacements: J Flannery, N Best, M O'Kelly, S Best, I Boss, P Wallace, G Murphy.

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