Ireland will be ‘torn apart’ by France:O’Driscoll

Brian O’Driscoll has said Ireland will be “torn apart” by France if they start slowly in their Six Nations match on Sunday.

The defending grand slam champions were 7-0 up against Scotland in just the third minute of last weekend’s first round clash in Paris, while Ireland struggled in Rome and scored just three points in the opening half of their 13-11 win over Italy.

Although Scotland crossed France’s try-line three times, ‘Les Bleus’ were convincing winners and their performance has forced Ireland captain O’Driscoll to make sure his men are fired up from the very first whistle at Lansdowne Road this weekend.

“We can’t expect a slow start and then to get going,” said the star centre, set to win his 109th Ireland cap on Sunday.

“If we start slowly this weekend, we’ll get torn apart. Sometimes you need to play with a fear factor which gets you out of the blocks nice and early.”

O’Driscoll’s 42nd Ireland try appeared to settle Ireland down in Rome, but the momentum swung to the hosts as the men in green struggled to maintain possession and coughed up turnover after turnover.

Ireland coach Declan Kidney resisted the temptation to make wholesale changes to the team however, with the only alteration seeing Leinster No 8 Jamie Heaslip replacing Munster’s Denis Leamy in the back row.

O’Driscoll agreed with Kidney’s assertion there were positives to be taken from last week, and blamed the performance on individual errors, rather than any systemic issue.

“They know themselves, people know themselves (what went wrong),” O’Driscoll argued.

“The number of errors I made might be uncharacteristic but they happened nonetheless, so we need to do extra work and practice on areas that might have let us down so we get them right next time we pull on the jersey.

“But I stand by what I said last weekend, parts of our shape was really good, we created a huge amount of chances. If that part of our game really struggled, I’d be a bit worried but it didn’t.

“The small things, like looking after the ball, the quality of passing, that can be easily corrected. If we work as hard as we did, work on shape, and bring the ball through phases, then with a bit of luck and a few mismatches we can take our opportunities.”

And Kidney urged his side to maintain the “courage” to attack against a powerful France side.

“France are a very strong team, one of the best in world, with a strong all-round game,” Kidney said. “But we just need to concentrate on ourselves, and have the courage to go out and play.

“The way the laws are now, if you stand off and attempt damage limitation you are going to get opened up. You need courage to play, and I hope we continue to do it.

“We are hugely self-critical sometimes, so we need to relax and play.

“That will happen once we hang on to the ball. That evolves after playing for one or two games and that is why left the team as it is, so they get used to the nuances of each other, the way guys carry ball.

“It’s intuitive stuff after a period of time. I know the variations they have in their play and it will come out as confidence grows.”

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