Wednesday 24 January 2018

o'sullivan: IRELAND can DO JOB ON Wales

Record victory in Cardiff would set up Grand Slam tilt against Scots for Schmidt's dominant green giants

Records are there to be broken. So they say.

Former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan witnessed his 10-match winning streak in 2003 equalled by Joe Schmidt's men in green on Sunday.

And the current Biarritz Olympique coach liked what he saw at The Aviva Stadium.

"It was a very complete performance," he said. "We just brought an intensity England couldn't deal with. We basically strangled the life out of them.

"I don't think at any stage of the game England looked in control or likely they were going to win. They were drowning from the word go.

"It was a very simple game-plan executed very accurately with a huge level of intensity."

The Irish exposed Stuart Lancaster's England as an over-rated entity unable to react well to a well-oiled, efficient machine.

"I thought Ireland were really way ahead of England, much further than we expected it would be. We thought it would be a lot tighter game.

"England, not for the first time in their history, were guilty of getting ahead of themselves.

"Everyone thought this is a team that could do something. They didn't think they'd have to do anything differently.


"Ireland were just a level above them in every department and England looked rudderless for most of the game."

Now that England have been ruthlessly dealt with it, the focus will be channelled towards Wales and what they will offer up at The Millennium Stadium on Saturday week.

"They are back on the horse," noted O'Sullivan.

"They got a real kick in the guts against England at home. That would have knocked the wind out of their sails.

"The Paris fixture will give them the confidence they need going in against Ireland.

"Paul O'Connell immediately flagged it. The Wales game is going to be most difficult game in the championship.

"I know the build-up to England was incredibly intense," he said.

"They (Ireland) knew in the back of their minds going to Cardiff, which is a very difficult place to get a result, particularly against this Welsh team which is very confident in their own skin in Cardiff.

"If we beat Wales, I can't see Scotland stopping us for a Grand Slam.

"But, if Wales get us in Cardiff, it's back to a three-horse race with ourselves, England and Wales, who would probably be the favourites with Italy their last game of the championship."

Ireland and Wales share similarities in that you know, in general, what they are going to do. It is a matter of absorbing it, neutralising it.

"Ireland haven't changed their game-plan," he stated.

"Everyone knows what they're going to get now. We tend to kick and kick contestables. We are very good at it. Teams have struggled against us.

"There was much talk about how England were ready for the aerial battle. But they forgot to bring their planes with them.

"They were in all sorts of trouble against us. Wales will expect this. You have to be careful.

"If Ireland are a little bit off, Wales could really hurt us.

"I don't think Ireland will change. They will just try and be better at what they're doing, more accurate, more intense.

"If they get it right there's no reason they can't beat Wales. They must be on the money, on the day."

The way Ireland shut out England, restricting them to a miserly three penalties was a testament to their discipline and defensive trust developed over time by Les Kiss.

"If Ireland defend very well, it will come down to that," he offered.

"Wales are difficult to defend against. You know what they're going to do but they do it really well.

"At home, they have to this capacity to play 10 per cent above what you would expect them to.

"In modern sport, all championships are won on defence.

"The team that makes the least number of mistakes and cuts down the space usually comes out on top. We saw that in spades against England."

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