herald

Wednesday 13 December 2017

O'Connell itching for action

IRELAND captain Paul O'Connell admits his team are growing impatient to nudge their Six Nations back on track against Italy on Saturday.

The Irish have been inactive since February 5, when they lost 23-21 to Wales, following the postponement of their showdown with France 10 days ago.

Coach Declan Kidney today named an unchanged XV for Italy and O'Connell revealed they are eager to resume their campaign.

"When you lose a game you like to get straight back out there and get it out of your system," the 32-year-old said.

"It's been frustrating carrying that around, but then some guys have had time to recover from bumps and bruises.

"We've come into camp fresh this week and that's the positive that's come of it. We have four games in a row now and some guys like that, others aren't so fussed."

New Italy coach Jacques Brunel is attempting to introduce a more rounded game in response to past failings, but O'Connell insists the pack remains Italy's greatest strength.

"Italy are a very tough, physical side," said the Lions skipper.

"They are keeping the ball in hand a bit more and are being more expansive, but they're still really tough up front."

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