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O'Sullivan unleashes his Irish dogs of war

By Gavin Mairs

Having revealed that Ireland "let the dogs loose" during a brutal training session this week, Ireland coach Eddie O'Sullivan believes his side are finally ready to find get their World Cup campaign up and running by delivering a comprehensive victory over Georgia tonight.

O'Sullivan's side can return to the top of pool D with a bonus point victory against the eastern European side, who have made 11 changes to the side that made life very difficult for Argentina on Tuesday night in Lyon.

In contrast, Ireland will field just one change to their line-up, with Shane Horgan, back to full fitness, coming in for Andrew Trimble, who was ruled out of the contest with a broken finger.

O'Sullivan hopes that showing faith in his men will reap rich dividends at the Stade Chaban Delmas tonight (kick-off 8.00pm BST), both in securing a bonus-point win and in getting a performance to build confidence for the crunch clash against France next Friday at the Stade de France.

And the Ireland coach said he had seen the enough on the training pitch this week give him the belief that the team will click after the massively disappointing display in the victory over Namibia last Sunday.

"Training was very physical this week," said O'Sullivan. "We had a very hard hit-out on Tuesday morning. It was quite a physical session and we let them get on with it. We needed a bit of that.

"I remember a few (Six Nations) championships again we did the same after a poor performance against France. We had a very physical week and it got guys back where they wanted to be.

"We spent a summer preparing to play rugby without actually playing much rugby and I think we are a bit short of match practice now. That's probably true of all the Home Nations.

"There is a risk with it because if you let the dogs loose in training, you can pick up injuries and the recovery time is short. But we have been lucky in that we have had a very good hit out (without picking up injuries) and the guys enjoyed it. There was a good buzz after training. We felt we had worked hard and trained well."

Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll added: "That element of narkiness was evident again which is always good for training sessions - guys having a go at one another and trying to get the best out of ourselves.

"Getting that competitive edge back into training is a step forward in playing well against Georgia. Maybe that was missing last week but certainly people weren't holding back in training this week."

Ireland will be fielding their most capped line-up of all time, containing a combined total of 796 appearances tonight and there will be no excuses for a repeat of the faltering display against Namibia.

"If you look throughout the squad we're carrying a huge number of caps and the knowledge that we're a better team than last weekend is important," added O'Sullivan.

"We have to stay focused and be sensible. We can't make the mistake of thinking we'll win this game in the first quarter."

Belfast Telegraph


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