Dynamite comes in small packages

Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan believes one of the smallest players in the Six Nations could have the biggest impact on Saturday’s intriguing clash against England at Croke Park.

For the first time in his Test career, Peter Stringer missed an international due to injury two weeks ago against France, but the diminutive scrum-half has proven his fitness for the game against England, having recovered from a fractured hand.

The return of Stringer to the Irish side – he will be starting in the half-backs alongside Ronan O’Gara for the 47th time – along with captain Brian O’Driscoll, certainly solidifies a back-line that failed to fire against the French.

And O’Sullivan is banking on the Munster number nine having a big influence on this weekend’s proceedings at Croke Park.

“It’s a big boost to have Peter back for a game like this,” O’Sullivan said.

“It’s a pivotal game in the Six Nations for us and this is the one you want to have a full deck for.

“If we win we’re right back in the hunt again.

“Peter is probably the best passer of the ball in the world at number nine – he gives the receiver so much time.

“The odd one goes astray but when you pass the ball 60 or 70 times in a game there’s going to be one or two off target.

“He has a capacity as well to get us out of jail. He’s done that a couple of times in big games where there’s been massive line breaks when you could see nothing but a try coming, and he comes out of nowhere and takes somebody down with a hand trip.”

“It’s not the dog in the fight, it’s the fight in the dog with Peter. He does box well above his weight all the time,” O’Sullivan continued.

“He puts in a huge number of tackles and always tackles people that are bigger than him because there’s nobody smaller than him on the pitch.”

Despite his 5ft 7in, 11 stone frame, Stringer cuts an authoritative figure behind the Irish scrum and his presence and experience – the game will mark his 74th cap – will be vital in the heat of the battle.

“He’s a good organiser, he barks at the pack and keeps them in line and they’re all afraid to cross him and that dynamic is very important in a pivotal position,” O’Sullivan added.

“Isaac Boss had a fine game the last day but Peter has that extra edge of experience and he knows most of the pack that bit better than Isaac, having played with Munster.

“There’s a little bit of pressure on Peter because he knows he has to put in a big game after being out of commission for a few weeks, but he is one guy I wouldn’t worry about under pressure.

“He tends to get on with his job and the bigger the game the harder he works.

“That’s why it’s good to have him back. It’s a good settling influence in that area of the field for us I think.”

365 Digital

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