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Defeat will be hard to swallow for O’Driscoll


Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland captain

Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland captain

Brian O'Driscoll: Ireland captain

Brian O'Driscoll yesterday displayed a philosophical streak as he reflected on Ireland's RBS 6 Nations clash with England at Croke Park.

When asked about his fellow 2001 Lions tourist and England manager Martin Johnson, O'Driscoll gave an answer that will earn the approval of Eric Cantona.

"Knowledge is knowing that tomato is a fruit, while wisdom is knowing not to put it in a fruit salad," he said.

Only O'Driscoll himself will know what relevance — if any — his answer has to Johnson, but the Ireland skipper is refusing to treat the World Cup finalists as flippantly as his media duties.

It will be England's second and final visit to Croke Park before Lansdowne Road reopens — they were thumped 43-13 two years ago — and O'Driscoll is determined to ensure they do not succeed at a ground steeped in history between the nations.

"Martin wants to win everywhere he goes. He's always been a tremendous competitor and that will translate to his management," he said.

"When you play England there's an incentive to make sure you're at your best.

"We have huge respect for all teams but that history between the two countries adds that little bit extra when we play England.

"There's awareness of the match throughout the country and that adds to it too.

"It's most likely to be the last time we play them at Croke Park so we'd like to keep it two from two.

"We always expect tough game against England. Taking away the fixture two years ago any time we've beaten England has been by less than a score.

"That speaks volumes and it always go to the death if you are to beat them. The hard ones are worth winning, you don't get so much enjoyment out of winning the easy ones."

The bleak financial climate has hit Ireland hard, prompting some commentators to highlight the effect defeat by England at Croke Park would have on national morale. But head coach Declan Kidney is understandably cautious at casting his team as the torchbearers of Irish prosperity in difficult times.

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"If we were to say our desire to win is greater than before we'd be lying," said Kidney. "Our desire to win is in the here and now. We have to understand how fortunate we are to be in a career that we like.

"We're very conscious that we're a representative side and want to do that to the best of our ability. Pressure? Not really. This is good place to live and we have a great sporting public on this island. People will be behind us if they know that we've given everything we can. The pressure for us is to be as good as we can be tomorrow. We want to do our families and all the people around proud."

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