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O'Driscoll wary of Springboks

South Africa may have limped into Dublin for Saturday's debut Test at Aviva Stadium but Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll insists they remain formidable opponents.

The Springboks finished bottom of the Tri Nations and have been ravaged by injury, arriving in Europe for their Grand Slam tour missing almost an entire team. Ireland are targeting a fourth straight victory in the fixture but O'Driscoll refuses to believe the world champions are vulnerable.

"I've never seen a poor touring Springboks team and I don't envisage them being any different this weekend," he said. "Having lost the last three games in Dublin I'm sure they'll be trying to make a point of changing that. They have large numbers who play in South Africa and have lots of quality."

O'Driscoll continued: "Some of the guys have a wealth experience against top teams, playing against New Zealand and Australia a number of times.

"Guys like Bismarck du Plessis and Bakkies Botha are back and the Springboks are always tough."

If Ireland have serious intentions of being a force at next year's World Cup they must dispatch the wounded tourists in convincing fashion.

O'Driscoll hopes to launch the team's return to the redeveloped Lansdowne Road with a victory, though he suspects transforming the arena into a fortress will not be easy.

"We want to make it a difficult place to come and play but because of the surroundings that will be more difficult," he said. "Coming into the old Lansdowne Road there were gale-force winds to help out and opposition teams weren't used to playing in the conditions.

"Now it's a more aesthetically pleasing place for teams to come into. It will be easier to play in the environment created here so it's the players' job to make it a difficult place to come.

"We do that through the brand of rugby we play and the standards that we set ourselves. We hope to get off to winning ways and create a fortress here."


From Belfast Telegraph