Players given chance to redeem themselves against France

Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan hopes his misfiring players will respond to his vote of confidence by seizing the chance to redeem themselves against France on Saturday.

Ireland boss Eddie O'Sullivan hopes his misfiring players will respond to his vote of confidence by seizing the chance to redeem themselves against France on Saturday.

Ireland laboured to a 26-16 victory over Italy in their RBS Six Nations Championship opener at Lansdowne Road, forcing O'Sullivan to reconsider his options ahead of today's team announcement.

But he has resisted the urge to wield the axe, instead keeping faith with the same starting line-up and bench as Ireland seek to make amends for the Azzurri horror show.

"We had a look at the team and we could have forced a few changes if we'd wanted to but you'd be victimising individuals," he said.

"No-one did exceptionally well or exceptionably badly. In these situations you have to give guys confidence by saying go out there and prove it was a glitch.

"There were no real claims to change the side. It wasn't a very good performance but it was collectively poor.

"We need to improve on last weekend when we get to Paris - in certain quarters in particular."

There could be one enforced change, however, with number eight Denis Leamy set to appear before a Six Nations disciplinary hearing tomorrow night.

Leamy has been cited for an alleged stamping incident involving Italy's Paul Griffen and if found guilty will face a ban of between six and 12 weeks, ruling him out of the remainder of the championship.

Anthony Foley, who was dropped for the November internationals and has not appeared for Ireland since, is on standby to replace his Munster colleague.

"We're going to hear the result tomorrow. If he's cleared he'll play on Saturday. Anthony Foley will start if he's not cleared," said O'Sullivan.

Brian O'Driscoll was accused of stamping on hooker Fabio Ongaro by Italy but was not cited for the offence so is free to captain Ireland for the 24th time.

O'Driscoll missed training today but O'Sullivan revealed it was only a minor thigh injury and the 27-year-old Lions captain was being rested as a precautionary measure.

"Brian took a knock to his thigh yesterday in training. It's tight today so there's no real value in him running," he said.

"It gives him another day off his feet. It was a tough match against Italy and he's only on his sixth game this season. We need to keep him fresh."

Tournament favourites France crashed to a 20-16 defeat at Murrayfield last Sunday in one of the Six Nations' greatest upsets, but will be a different proposition on home soil.

Ireland will have to produce a huge improvement if they are to have any hope of inflicting further misery on Les Blues with O'Sullivan declaring patience is the key.

"Our set piece was fine against Italy, except with our line-out early on," he said.

"Our defence was excellent but in attack we tried to do too much in front of the gain line and got knocked down behind it. We struggled to gain momentum and I thought Italy played very well.

"It turned into a very stop-start game - there were 64 set pieces in the game which is extraordinarily high in this day and age, especially on a dry day.

"But that defined the type of match it was and it didn't suit us. We've attributed that to forcing the game at times."

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up
IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox