We're ready to put our bodies on the line, insists O'Connell

Ireland’s Six Nations skipper is expecting the toughest physical challenge of the tournament against the Italian this weekend.

Paul O'Connell faces the press at Carton House yesterday.
Paul O'Connell faces the press at Carton House yesterday.
Image: INPHO/Billy Stickland

IRELAND SKIPPER PAUL O’Connell insists his charges are ready for a war of attrition against Italy on Saturday.

Yesterday, Declan Kidney unsurprisingly named an unchanged side from that which he selected for the postponed clash in Paris.

And the tournament captain reckons the XV who take the field for the 1.30pm kick-off will be rearing to go.

“Italy are a very tough physical side so there’ll be a lot of sore bodies after the game on Saturday. That’s not ideal but we just have to get on with it,” the Munster man said yesterday.

“It’s going to be a really tough game for us. It’s probably the most physical challenge of the whole tournament, the Italian game. Whenever we played them in the past, they’ve obviously an excellent maul, an excellent scrum, they’re excellent around the fringes. It’s going to be a tough game on the bodies this weekend.

“They’ve kept the ball in hand a little bit more, they’ve been a small bit more expansive, but they’re still really tough up front. When you’ve such strength as they have up in the scrum and in the maul, why would you go away from it? So they’ve been really good at that aspect of the game, but they’ve kept the ball in hand a little bit more, attacked the short sides a little bit more, so I think they’ve looked a very good team in the last two games.”

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Best laid plans

The ridiculous scenes on a half-frozen Stade de France pitch a fortnight ago, of course, put a new shape on Ireland’s schedule. But, O’Connell insists, he and his team-mates will just carry on, as always.

“There’s nothing you can do about it, you just have to get on with it. I suppose some guys with knocks have probably gotten the benefit of it, a few other guys would’ve liked to have played games and gotten a few games under their belt. It is what it is and you have to get on with it,” O’Connell told a press conference at Carton House yesterday.

“We’d a good week’s training last week in our provinces and we were together for one day, we’d a good day. So we came into camp this week in good shape and refreshed so that’s the positive of it. Four games in a row now. Some guys like that, other guys aren’t too pushed about it either. But it is what it is and guys have just gotten on with it.”

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