Belfast Telegraph

Monday 20 October 2014

O'Sullivan throws all his big guns in from the start

If playing his strongest line-up throughout the last World Cup in Australia four years ago didn't bear fruit, Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan is still sticking by his guns.

On Sunday night, when Ireland's World Cup campaign opens against Namibia, the lowest ranked nation in the tournament, O'Sullivan will unleash his full-strength side on an African side in part made up by amateurs.

There are two changes from the side that defeated Italy at Ravenhill as Brian O'Driscoll returns as captain, having recovered from the fractured sinus he suffered during the warm-up match against Bayonne.

Munster flanker David Wallace comes back into the side, fit again from his chronic ankle injury, in place of Neil Best, who drops to the bench, while Andrew Trimble, who deputised for O'Driscoll at outside centre during the final warm-up match against Italy, switches to the right wing in place of Geordan Murphy.

In this pool of death - a victory for Argentina against hosts France at the Stade de France would blow it right open - O'Sullivan is conscious of both the importance that points difference could make and to get his team firing on all cylinders.

For him, Sunday's match is about Ireland putting their best foot forward. Laying down a marker. Even if it means that the big guns may well have to play in every game.

" The selection will be based on what we think is the best to get the job done," said O'Sullivan. "That's all you can do. People will differ with that and that's fine and dandy. But you have to remember that the team I pick actually has to go onto the field.

"You can pick any team you like but if it doesn't go on the field, it doesn't matter. I have to base my decisions on what gets the best results for Ireland. To get out of this pool and if possible to get out of it by winning the pool.

"It is a tall order but that is the order we are putting in front of ourselves. I don't understand why you would pick a weakened team just to get people onto the pitch. If you think this is the best team to do the job, you have to go out with that team.

"We do the same in the Six Nations. We don't go into the Six Nations and say we have to play everybody in the 30 that we picked at the start. You pick the side that is going to get the job done.

"If you get five games into this tournament, we will be doing pretty well and there is five games in the Six Nations. It is not the exact same but it is not a 100 miles away from it."

A blitzkrieg opening by the Irish would probably allow O'Sullivan to give his bench significant game-time and limit the risk of injury to his key men.

Trimble, one of the few players going into the tournament with form, will be keen to further impress, with Shane Horgan on course to be fit for the second pool match against Georgia on Saturday week.

Despite the potential mis-match of the game, O'Sullivan feels there is no room for anymore rustiness.

"Namibia will be fired up, most of their players play in the Currie Cup so they are quite a physical outfit," he added. "They are particularly strong in the back row and they are very good at the breakdown.

"The contest for the football will be very intense so the setpiece is quite solid and they are a big side so I think it will be quite a bruising encounter.

"Every team will want to come out firing in the first game and even in our own team a lot of guys are getting to the point of frustration. It has been a slow build-up and everyone is looking forward to getting a game under their belts."

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife galleries

More

Latest Sport News

Stats Centre