Veteran second row Donncha O’Callaghan hopes he laid down a marker for selection in Declan Kidney’s Irish team for Saturday’s battle of the Aviva with old sparring partners Argentina.
O’Callaghan believes the meeting with their old rivals, a country that has inflicted quite a deal of pain on Ireland in the past, is like a cup final.
“The Argie game is something different in itself,” he said. “I’ll be honest, it is what our November will be judged on. It’s cup final stuff, that’s how it feels already, it has been three great weeks but it doesn’t matter if we don’t get a result.”
Argentina still have not won a Test game in Ireland and it’s something O’Callaghan hopes won’t happen on his watch if he gets selected this weekend.
So did he do enough when helping a largely youthful Irish team demolish an equally under strength Fiji?
“I dunno, it’s hard to say. I just wanted to make it as tough as possible. I really want to play well every time I go out. If anything, when backed into a corner, you really want to put in a big performance.
“I just want to make it a headache for Deccie [Kidney]. I just want to make it really tough to leave me out or put me in. I think if we have competition throughout the squad it’s really good.”
On a night when youngsters ruled the roost, O’Callaghan, skipper Jamie Heaslip and 26-year-old winger Fergus McFadden had a major influence. While O’Callaghan tries to figure out which way Kidney will move, he still believes the coach will have to take some stock of the brilliant performance produced by the youngsters.
“You could pick a lot of them out but close to home I saw one really big play from Iain Henderson near the goal line. It stands out.
“There was a bit of goal line pride that he wanted to have a big moment like that and turn it over. He’s coming on, he’s a great young fella, a massive talent and he’ll get better at the level.”
In the white heat of battle, O’Callaghan was in awe of some of the inspired back line play produced, particularly from Craig Gilroy. “I saw Craig haring up the pitch and all I was thinking was, fuck it, you better score pal.
“Yeah, he was great and there was a great buzz out there. I think there was a bit of work rate for each other and that’s better than individual performances.”
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