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Friday 18 January 2019

Aussies fear 'freak' Drico

Ashley-Cooper admits Irish skipper worries Wallabies ahead of vital Pool C clash

Australia star Adam Ashley-Cooper has described Brian O'Driscoll as a "freak" who has the big-game temperament to deliver on the greatest stage.

Ashley-Cooper has held O'Driscoll in the highest regard ever since being told as a teenager to study him in order to learn how an outside centre should play.

The 27-year-old utility back is an option to line up opposite the Irish captain in Saturday's World Cup showdown at Eden Park and he hopes he is given the nod.

"Brian is a freak. He created a pretty painful result for us at Croke Park a couple of years ago when he scored under the posts to draw the game," Ashley-Cooper said.

"He's achieved so much. All of us in the Aussie camp respect him so much.

"On a good day, he's one of the best in the world. We're hoping he has a quiet night on Saturday.

"He represents the same threat that he did five years ago. Players like Brian turn up in arenas like this. It's a World Cup and he's here to play.

"Back in 2002, I was told by my coach to study Brian O'Driscoll because he was the best at what he did at 13. He had acceleration and defence -- he's a complete player and has shown that for the past 12 years.



Excited

"I'm sure whoever gets the 13 jersey this week will be very excited to face him. If you want to be the best, you've got to compete against the best and Brian has been on top of his game for so long."

Meanwhile, Geordan Murphy is convinced Ireland can summon the performance needed to place one foot in the World Cup quarter-finals.

The Wallabies, second favourites to win the World Cup, have been in ominous form, but Murphy is sure his team-mates can defy recent results to produce an upset.

"It feels like there's a big performance in the team," the Leicester captain said. "We have some fantastically talented players, some guys who can play really good rugby. We can take it on another gear or two against Australia. We'll be up against it as we're playing one of the best sides in the world, but there's the belief that we can win this. The guys are all confident."

Murphy rates Australia's three-quarters as the most dangerous in the game and is full of admiration for the likes of Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Ashley-Cooper.

"The Australian backline are awesome across the board. Australian rugby, for many years, has produced fantastic backs," Murphy said.

"They're tremendously talented and are great at breaking teams down.

"They're not a bad bunch either, so they're thoroughly unlikeable!

"They're probably the most potent attacking backline in the world. They have pace, power and are intelligent."

Murphy should be available to face the Aussies despite suffering a hamstring strain.

The Leicester Tigers full-back sustained the injury during training but has not been ruled out of the pivotal clash.

Tony Buckley is also expected to recover in time to face the Wallabies after a scan revealed he sustained only bruising to his shoulder in the 22-10 win over the USA.

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