O'Driscoll upbeat despite defeats
Brian O'Driscoll is determined to keep results in perspective as Ireland's preparations for the World Cup enter a key phase.
O'Driscoll will make his first appearance of the summer in Saturday's clash with France at Aviva Stadium after recovering from a neck/shoulder injury. The 32-year-old captain is joined in midfield by Gordon D'Arcy, who is in action for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery in May.
Having lost to Scotland and France already this summer, it is important that Ireland start building momentum to carry into the World Cup by winning the home leg against Les Bleus. O'Driscoll, however, insists further defeats would not cause panic in the camp and he said: "Winning is important but isn't the be all and end all."
He added: "It's also about getting game time and getting up to speed. If we didn't win a warm-up game it wouldn't be ideal, but it's not the World Cup right now. The World Cup is in three weeks' time. Let's focus on getting the best possible performance.
"We're going into the game with the attitude of we really want to win this game, so let's see what happens. There's definitely an onus on trying to win the game but because some guys will be making their first start, it's essentially about playing your way into the season.
"We'll try to get the performance that will take care of the result. It's about making sure we have the right mentality for the weekend. Our intensity and physicality need to be right."
Paul O'Connell and Jamie Heaslip make their summer series full debuts while David Wallace, who had yet to feature, is named at openside. And there was more good news when Stephen Ferris, their destructive back row, was passed fit for bench duty following a seven-month battle with a knee problem.
It was an encouraging team announcement from coach Declan Kidney, who will monitor the fitness of O'Driscoll, D'Arcy and Ferris closely. The trio are key players when fit with the presence of D'Arcy and Ferris is particularly pleasing given they were considered doubts for the World Cup.
"The only injuries involving Stephen now are the people he's been bumping into," said Kidney.