/ 12 November 2006

Ireland try to keep their feet on the ground

Ireland’s talismanic captain Brian O’Driscoll pleaded for a reality check on Saturday after his team inflicted a record 32-15 defeat of 1995 world champions South Africa at Lansdowne Road.

The 27-year-old centre said people needed to keep their feet on the ground with a testing match to come against two-time world champions Australia next Sunday.

”We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves,” said O’Driscoll, who earlier this week ended any speculation about his future by signing a contract with the IRFU till 2011 worth a reported £400 000 a year.

”It was a great performance but we need another one next week. I think it is a tribute to the players because they turned up hungry and looking in shape.

”However this is a vital year with the World Cup coming up and we have to keep our feet on the ground.”

O’Driscoll, who along with coach Eddie O’Sullivan has led Ireland to two Six Nations Triple Crowns, said that it had been a much more pleasing performance than the controversial 17-12 win over the Springboks two years ago.

”It was a better performance than 2004. I think we learnt a lot from the summer [they lost to the All Blacks twice and Australia in the southern hemisphere tour] and we took it out on the Springboks a bit,” said the skipper.

”We did leak a couple of poor tries in the second-half but we responded by getting one of our own late on. It was a well-rounded performance from the team in which all the players won their personal battles.”

O’Driscoll like South African coach Jake White was especially complimentary to fly-half Ronan O’Gara who overshadowed his Springbok counterpart Andre Pretorius.

”There should be a massive amount of credit given to ‘Rog’ [Ronan O’Gara],” he insisted.

”He controlled the game. He’s a vastly improved player on last year and was absolutely outstanding today.

”He created a lot of the openings for me and Gordon D’Arcy to run into holes and it was always him deciding to take quick tap penalties which had the South Africans on the back foot.”

O’Sullivan was delighted with the performance and in particular with the second-half performance.

”I was a bit concerned at half-time that despite being 19 points to the good (22-3) we had conceded too many penalties and with the wind behind them the South Africans could really pin us back and we would concede even more penalties.

”Also I didn’t want us to go into our shell and just defend but instead we only conceded three penalties and far from hiding we took the game to them.” – Sapa-AFP