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    POC speaks

    Paul O'Connell believes Ireland will justify their status as RBS 6 Nations favourites thanks to the leadership of Brian O'Driscoll.

    Ireland have emerged as the strongest team in Europe after dispatching South Africa, Australia and the Pacific Islanders in a hugely successful autumn series.

    New Zealand were the only other team to complete a clean sweep from the November internationals and they alone lie above Ireland in Test rugby's pecking order.

    With England and France travelling to Croke Park in February, Ireland have a fantastic chance of ending their 22-year search for Six Nations glory.

    Their tournament opener against Wales in Cardiff could possibly be the toughest assignment but O'Connell is backing his side to live up to the tag of favourites.

    And the Munster lock, nominated for the International Rugby Board's player of the year award, believes O'Driscoll's inspirational captaincy is the key to realising their potential.

    ``We're delighted with the way the month has gone. Three wins from the autumn when you have played two of the biggest teams in the world is fabulous,'' he said.

    ``It will be a whole new ball game for the Six Nations. We can win the Six Nations.

    ``We have a captain who relishes playing in those circumstances and leading a team in those circumstances and that's exactly what we need.

    ``We're learning to handle the favourites' tag a lot better. We came from an era of Irish rugby when we enjoyed being the underdogs.

    ``But Brian is very good at being the type of captain who enjoys leading a team that has high expectations. He does it very well and it's been great for him.''

    Sunday's 61-17 victory over the Pacific Islanders was the last game at Lansdowne Road before renovation begins in January, Croke Park taking over as the short-term home of Irish rugby.

    The 82,500-seater stadium - the fourth biggest in Europe - is a fitting venue for what is considered the best Ireland team of all time and O'Connell admits it will be a dream come true to run out at the impressive Dublin venue.

    ``Our work rate and fitness has been grown over the last few years. The way we closed out the games against Australia and South Africa was excellent,'' he said.

    ``It was good to say goodbye to Lansdowne Road with such a big win but now it's time for Croke Park and it will be massive for us to play there.

    ``Every Irishman dreams of playing there when they're young. It will be a massive motivating factor for us.

    ``The more passion and emotion you can bring to your game the better. It will be brilliant for us.''

    O'Connell marked his 26th cap with the last try at Lansdowne Road, bringing his international tally to five.


    Originally posted by Slaptarse

    The 82,500-seater stadium - the fourth biggest in Europe - is a fitting venue for what is considered the best Ireland team of all time and O'Connell admits it will be a dream come true to run out at the impressive Dublin venue.

    well not quite all seater
    "Some people don't know their easy lives... I wouldn't be so ungrateful" - Fiacre Ryan - #AutismAndMe



      I'd have no problem doing what Rog did and coaching abroad'

      At nearly 34 and facing into another hard campaign, it's all about managing the body for Paul O'Connell

      John O'Brien – 18 August 2013
      Last Friday week was his first day back. Six days later and he still finds himself readjusting to the strangeness of familiar surroundings. He crosses a city that has assumed a decidedly green tint for now. He enters a changing room and sees a void once filled with the easy charm of Dougie Howlett and the sharp, quick wit of Ronan O'Gara. He sees the old guard disappearing in front of his very eyes now.

      Intimations of mortality. Not even the greats escape them. Paul O'Connell isn't stupid enough to think he can ever be the young, rutting stag he used to be again. He looks around at training and sees the young bucks pushing themselves, their hunger and energy a challenge he isn't of a mind to accept. When you're on the verge of turning 34, he thinks, self-preservation is the order of the day. "I can't train the same as a Dave Kilcoyne or a Tommy O'Donnell," he says. "I need to look after myself and be a little bit careful. It's hard to do. You want to compete with them in the gym, you want to do all the sessions and stay out there the longest, but the big thing at the end of the week is being able to get out on the pitch and play a match to the best of your ability.

      "It's not all about the gym and the training pitch, so that's something I've probably learned through bad experiences in the gym. It's just about managing the body and getting it right and getting a good pre-season under my belt as well, because I don't always get the opportunity."

      Munster set out on another fact-finding season with the target of winning the Heineken Cup – same as any season, he says – and after the injuries that have virtually torn apart his last two seasons, O'Connell expects to be ready by mid-September and sees much to build on from the previous campaign. The opportunity they gave themselves in Clermont. The day the young brigade stood up to be counted against Harlequins.

      "For those guys to have gone away from home against a big English team and produced the goods, that's how you get your belief and that's how you start building a tradition. Hopefully these guys, the likes of Tommy O'Donnell, Peter O'Mahony, Mick Sherry, Dave Kilcoyne, Conor Murray, Zebo, that'll inspire them this year and we can kick on from it."

      Life kicks on. No Dougie. No Rog. And Peter O'Mahony starting a new chapter as Munster captain. O'Connell remembers the first time he was given the accolade, a little older than O'Mahony is now, but not much, and feeling as if he had to carry the weight of the world on his young shoulders. A little lesson he can impart at a quiet time.

      "When you are young you can end up shouldering a lot of the burden of loss when you are captain," O'Connell says. "You have to realise all you can do is play the best you can and lead from the front. That's all Peter has to do. When I was captain and we lost games – I'll never forget losing to Leicester here in 2007 – you end up shouldering a lot of the blame yourself, or feeling you should, when really it's not the case at all. There's lots of senior players in the group to help out."

      Maybe it's an age thing, he thinks, but he finds himself in reflective mood a lot these days. Rugby blessed him beyond belief, of course. A career in his own parish, winning trophies among those he loves and cherishes most in his life. How could he ever leave that? And yet he sees Jonny Sexton heading for a blissful adventure in France and remembers the opportunities he had to go too. A regret? A slight one if he is honest.

      "One of the things is that I've only ever lived in Limerick. Even though I was involved with Munster through the great years when we were winning Heineken Cups, it is a bit of a regret. I never travelled, never took the opportunity rugby would've given me to play abroad, although it would've been very hard to leave at the same time. But I'd have no problem doing what Rog did and move abroad to coach."

      For now, though, he's another year in Munster and eager to kick on. Last week brought him back into the Irish fold too and more change to deal with. He's already had a few conversations with Joe Schmidt and on Wednesday they spent a day in Carton House, setting out their stall for the season ahead. "A really interesting, short, sharp day," O'Connell testifies. "Really enjoyable."

      He supposes the free-flowing style Schmidt favoured with Leinster will become Ireland's way too – "he's not going to reinvent the way he plays" – and O'Connell is happy

      enough with that. And if there are any lingering issues over the Dave Kearney incident in April when Schmidt, as Leinster manager, had some harsh words to say, then neither party felt the need to raise them. Having repented, O'Connell now hopes everybody can move on.

      "There's been a lot of media coverage of it certainly," he says. "Was it over the top? I dunno. People are entitled to their opinion. I just know from my own point of view it looked very bad on the video. And I also know from my point of view it was a complete accident. Dave knows that as well. None of the stuff bothered me. You'd rather it hadn't been written about so much as it was, but it's all part of the game. When incidents happen, people cover it. That's the nature of it."
      He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.


        Paulie's on Newstalk in a few minutes...

        Roger Roger. What's our vector, Victor?
        RIP Anthony Foley - The greatest of great Munster men.


          He sounds bored with Ivan already.


            Originally posted by Burgers View Post
            He sounds bored with Ivan already.


              thanks for posting that, I reckon Paulie was gone at the end of the interview as Ivan was gushing with his praise and thanks....
              He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.


                Another nothing interview.
                The Beatings Will Continue Until Morale Improves


                  He learned from the master, Deccie
                  "There are a lot of points that we’ve left behind and this is with a young group. That probably tells you what they’re capable of and that they’re a very good side.

                  Probably next year or the year after next they will take some stopping"

                  Anthony Foley, May 2016. Axel RIP