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Game by game, Ireland building for 'something special' at World Cup - O'Connell

The Irish captain believes his team but ultimately benefit from a less than stellar Argentina tour.

Paul O'Connell and Dave Kilcoyne (r).
Paul O'Connell and Dave Kilcoyne (r).
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

IRISH RUGBY SUPPORTERS often acquaint themselves with success very quickly. Thumped 60-0 in New Zealand two years and fifth in the 2013 Six Nations, Joe Schmidt has worked grand wonders in a short space of time.

The current Six Nations champions went to Argentina to face a home side shorn of some, but not all, of its stars. They survived bruising first halves in both games to win comfortably and claim their first ever series win in the country.

And yet, such are the standards Schmidt expects, that there was a distinct lack of fanfare to the trophy hand-over and post-match chat. The feeling was mutual back home as supporters lamented the lack of cutting edge over the two Tests.

Following the 23-17 win in Tucuman, Ireland captain Paul O’Connell told Sky Sports he would be heading on his summer break with lingering regrets of a series that failed to entirely fire. “Since last November,” he said, “we’ve been marginally improving all the time and when we have taken a step back we have learned from it very quickly and pressed-on so, to have two weeks and not performed and not been as accurate as we would have liked to have been, is disappointing.”

O’Connell hopes the wider squad, including the raft of new caps, will benefit from spending two weeks under the close observation and guidance of coach Joe Schmidt. He added, “You do get asked to do a lot of things very, very different to what you do back in your home province certainly for the Munster, the Ulster, the Connacht guys. So, it’s a big learning curve.”

Rob Kearney supported by Paul O'Connell, Mike Ross and Simon Zebo O'Connell supports a charging Rob Kearney. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

From a personal perspective, O’Connell is already looking forward to getting back in the gym and out on the rugby pitch. “Hopefully now I will get a very good, strong pre-season in now, build on what we’ve done this year under Joe with Ireland and get another pre-season into the World Cup and hopefully go there and achieve something special,” he said.

“I haven’t had a pre-season since the World Cup so that’s when you really make the big gains, so from now on in it’s all about getting for that.”

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Argentina series win for Ireland as Madigan and Zebo add garnish

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Patrick McCarry

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