Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield
PAUL O’CONNELL BELIEVES Ireland are well prepared to bounce back from last weekend’s disappointment in Cardiff and deliver a strong performance against Scotland tomorrow as they look to secure a second consecutive Six Nations title.
O’Connell stretches for a ball during Ireland’s captain’s run this afternoon. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
The Grand Slam dream died with defeat to Warren Gatland’s Wales last time out, but O’Connell says that result has seen no shift in mindset among Joe Schmidt’s Ireland group.
“There hasn’t been a change in mood really,” said O’Connell after this afternoon’s captain’s run at Murrayfield. “We just addressed the Wales game and some of the shortcomings we had from it and we started preparing for Scotland.
That process involves mentally preparing for what could be a roller coaster of a Saturday depending on how Wales fare against Italy in the 12.30 kick-off, and then England in the 17.00 start versus France.
There will be a constant focus on the points difference of each of the Six Nations contenders throughout the day, although O’Connell insists such activities will be reserved for those outside the playing group.
“It’s kind of like Heineken Cup or Champions Cup, where it’s a dangerous place to go to start thinking about anything but winning the game,” said O’Connell. “You’ll have a plan going into a game of how to beat a team and you’ll be trying to execute that as well as you can.
“That’s all we’ve spoken about, that’s all we’ve addressed. Our big focus is starting the game well, starting the game in a disciplined fashion and getting ourselves off on the right foot.
O’Connell speak to his Ireland team at Murrayfield. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
“It’s the same as if we were coming over looking for a one-point win. That’s all you can do, whatever happens happens.”
O’Connell admitted to being surprised that Scotland have lost all four of their Six Nations games so far, particularly with a head coach as strong as Vern Cotter in charge.
The Ireland captain underlined his belief that the Scots are better than their results suggest, pointing in particular to their contingent of Warriors.
“No team has pulled away from them, every game has been really tight even going back to the New Zealand game [in November], those Autumn games. The same with us last year, it was very close around half time, we were 6-3 up and we managed to pull away.
“I am surprised and we have a lot of respect for them. A big spine of the team is the Glasgow team, which has been so consistent over the last number of years, incredibly difficult to beat, especially over here.”
I looked up to O’Connell and Heaslip growing up – Scotland prospect AsheLetter from Edinburgh: Schmidt looking for clarity in Murrayfield