Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

O'Callaghan understands frustration

Donncha O'Callaghan insists heightened expectation levels have contributed to the downbeat reaction to Ireland's RBS 6 Nations campaign.

The Irish visit the Millennium Stadium for Saturday's clash with Wales knowing they would have been on course for a Grand Slam had they shown more composure against France.

Narrow, error-strewn and indisciplined victories against Italy and Scotland have provided plenty of ammunition for their critics, but O'Callaghan, said: "In the past when we won the Triple Crown, people would run on to the pitch, lifting the players off it. And you're thinking that if we won a Triple Crown now, they'd probably be giving out to us!"

He added: "That's probably due to the high standards that are expected now and I don't think that's a bad thing.

"We can't play the small guys anymore, those days are gone. We've won European Cups, we've won Grand Slams, we've picked up a few scalps - South Africa, Australia etc.

"People's expectations are way higher than they should be and I think that's not a bad thing."

Ireland travel to Cardiff knowing they must address the indiscipline which has undermined their Six Nations.

On average they have conceded just over 12 penalties per match, compelling Declan Kidney to issue his players with a fiery warning when they analysed the 21-18 victory over Scotland.

O'Callaghan has revealed the team are determined to avoid another rebuke from their head coach.

"Whoever was in on our meeting with Declan last Tuesday wouldn't want to be on the end of a silly penalty this weekend," he said. "Everyone probably knows Declan as a nice man who is really calm and composed. But he let fly on Tuesday."


From Belfast Telegraph