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Sunday 23 September 2018

Brian wants spirit of '78

Drico: One day you're going to hit that peak

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE
Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

BRIAN O'DRISCOLL seemed to call on the spirit of 1978 shown in Munster's defeat of the All Blacks for Ireland to cause the biggest shock in world rugby this year.

"One day you're going to hit that brilliant performance and it's going to be memorable. People are going to talk about it and make plays about it," he said.

The legendary Irish centre will also use the motivation of the present from the "anger" of Australia to combat the invincible aura of New Zealand in his "last opportunity" to beat them.

"It's one that has eluded me in any Irish side I have been a part of or any Lions side that I've been involved with. It is something that I would dearly love to do," he said.

"That's the beauty of those really great victories, that they're hard fought. They're the ones that you really remember.

"We know what a big battle we have on our hands to achieve that, so it's about building for the whole week to get to that point."

He still believes Ireland can make history by using the "fear factor" from what happened against New Zealand in Hamilton last year.

"It's a combination of the anger of our performance and then the realisation that, yes, we did get 60 points put against us to no score last time we had an outing against them," he said.

"I can't think of it not being a great chance, a great opportunity. All you can ask is for these opportunities. You're never guaranteed any more than that and this is just one more and for me it is my last opportunity.

Optimism

"I'm the eternal optimist and I think you have to be in this game. The day that you are going out to contain a team, you're finished.

"It's not about containing anyone. It's about going out and trying to bring your game to the opposition the way you feel you can.

"Yes, no-one will give us a chance, but that's okay with us. In our own heads we'll feel we're more than capable of absolutely competing with them."

O'Driscoll has made uncharacteristic mistakes against Samoa and Australia in the last two weeks. He has felt the force of coach Joe Schmidt's critique.

"He's not a back-slapper. He's someone that is constantly looking for that game of perfection that you're never going to find.

"You're always going to be picked up on something; even a small detail when you have gone well. That's his mentality and I think it's served him pretty well thus far."

And that is alright with O'Driscoll.

"Joe is an opportunity sort of guy as well and he's someone that definitely believes in us and he knows the talent that we do have.

"He knows that if we can get the things right that we practice this week and implement them well we can cause the All Blacks trouble."

The defence was "definitely too passive" against Australia and Les Kiss will drill home the importance of squeezing the All Blacks host of dangerous attackers.

"I think when you invite skilful players on with time and space they can pull all their tricks out," said the 34-year-old.

"No player in the world likes having minimal time on the ball. Time on the ball gives you the chance to pick your pass or identify numbers."

There was a time when a young man from Clontarf gutted France for a hat-trick in 2000 and went on to tear Australia to pieces in the first test of the British & Irish Lions Tour in 2001.

The fearlessness of youth can overcome mere common sense and what should happen so that something weird and wonderful can take its place.

Ireland have to play fearlessly: "We would take the view that it's the biggest stage to perform and that's how people make their names too," he said.

Greats

"The great players in the world, the guys who've gone on to have long and illustrious careers, have been thrown in at the deep-end a lot of the time when its sink or swim. You want that opportunity to play against the best teams.

"I've always said that the more chances you get to play against the best teams the healthier it is for you to understand where you are personally and where you are collectively as a team.

"That's why it's always a joy to play against the All-Blacks, albeit we haven't had the success we would have liked or any success from a winning point of view.

"It doesn't mean that our ambition isn't there every time we play them."

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