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Paulie out to put Oz on ice


Paul O'Connell believes Ireland must beef up ahead of next year's World Cup

Paul O'Connell believes Ireland must beef up ahead of next year's World Cup

Paul O'Connell believes Ireland must beef up ahead of next year's World Cup

Paul O'Connell backs Ireland as "much improved" since they were skinned alive by Australia last November.

The captain is convinced that 32-15 wake-up call was just part of the process under Joe Schmidt.

Leinster went through it; Ireland too.

"It wasn't a humiliating experience, I think you saw Leinster went through it when they started off with Joe, they struggled with some of the things that were being asked of them.

"A lot of the things you're asked of when you're coached by Joe are very different to what people would have done in the past.

"So you go out with the fullest intentions to do things right and if you have a disappointing day, then you have a disappointing day.

"If you don't correct it and you continue to struggle then I would say it gets annoying and humiliating and embarrassing.

The trick is to marry the detail to the aggression, to make it first nature, in a way.

"You'll always have certain things you're trying to do in a game, things that take a little bit of thought and concentration," said O'Connell.

"Trying to manage the balance to keep doing that in a fashion that allows you to get the gain line is one of the tough things in rugby.

"It's not a question of getting psyched up and going out and playing as hard and fast as you can.

"You have to that mental attitude but you have to have that bit of ice in the mind as well to be able to execute plays with a certain amount of detail."

There are characteristics that distinguish one southern hemisphere country from another.

Australia offer a severe contrast to the obssession for physicality pursued by South Africa.

"I don't know if it is a difference but they are always very clever, they are always able to exploit space.

"If you show them space they will go to it rather than run over you and I think that is a big thing with them.

"There is a lot of very big men there but they can match a real cleverness with that.

"So many of the the plays that we would have used in Munster, Ireland or the provinces down through the years would have been poached off of Australian teams."

Scrum coach Greg Feek has placed a lot of faith in Jack McGrath not just to fill in for Cian Healy, but to challenge the latter's status as Ireland first-choice loose-head.

"Certainly, I'm treating Jack like he's it at the moment."

"He's starting the game and he needs to finish this series like he finished the South African game. Just carry on that form and we'll be in a great position if Cian comes back."

Feek will look for a significant improvement the scrum where Ireland have been given clarification over the status of the hit and chase triggered by South Africa.

"The last thing you want is to be caught out with your pants down," he said.

"You have to be prepared for anything.

"It's just that November is a time where it is our first game back together and those teams have been playing in the Rugby Championships and they're on a roll.

"The referees might come out in November and say 'this is what we're looking for' and we've always worked hard to try and do that.

Australia, like South Africa, have had the time and scope to fine-tune their scrum over the summer. In this regard, Ireland are playing catch-up.

"It's a bit of what they do and what referees want, but we've got to be on song as a unit as well, striving to at least get parity going forward.

"We want to leave November in a good place."

Ireland: R Kearney; T Bowe, R Henshaw, G D'Arcy, S Zebo; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O''Connell (capt), P O'Mahony, R Ruddock, J Heaslip.

Australia: I Folau; A Ashley-Cooper, T Kuridrani, M Toomua, H Speight; B Foley, N Phipps; J Slipper, S Fainga'a, S Kepu, S Carter, R Simmons, L Jones. M Hooper (capt, B McCalman.

Verdict: Ireland