Ireland need to keep calm in face of aggression

By Tony Ward
Saturday 16 November 2002 01:00

When Ireland take the field against Fiji at Lansdowne Road tomorrow afternoon the very last message guaranteed to be imparted from their coach Eddie O'Sullivan to his charges will be one of control.

The forecast is for more rain and that certainly will dampen Fijian intentions considerably, but if there is one thing guaranteed it is that irrespective of the conditions Mac McCallion's side will look to play it loose and often. At the Millennium Stadium last week they were caught ill-prepared by a Welsh side on top of its structured, if relatively limited game.

As expected the Fijians were ferociously aggressive, but overly so and paid a heavy price. "We have to be more disciplined around the rucks and mauls," McCallion said. "We got penalised a lot for ball handling and consistently coming in the wrong side at the breakdown."

With Sevens master Waisale Serevi one of three changes to the side it hardly takes the powers of a rocket scientist to work out what the pre-game plan will be – conditions permitting.

Add to that the return of Harlequins' talented centre Villiame Satala directly opposite Brian O'Driscoll and the threat out wide is pretty plain to see.

Ireland have made nine changes to the unit that beat the world champions, Australia, last week and the squad is high on confidence. It makes for an interesting mix and provided they exercise the necessary control and patience there is enough talent and flexibility to play it either way. They can tough it out up front or, conditions and quality of ball allowing, play it fast and fluidly through the hand.

Ireland should build further on last week's historic win and make it five on the bounce, but not without few nervous moments along the way.

IRELAND: G Murphy (Leicester); S Horgan (Lansdowne), B O'Driscoll (Blackrock, capt), K Maggs (Bath), J Bishop (London Irish); D Humphreys (Dungannon), G Easterby (Llanelli); M Horan (Shannon), F Sheahan (Cork Constitution), J Hayes (Shannon), L Cullen (Blackrock), M O'Kelly (St Mary's), A Quinlan (Shannon), K Dawson (London Irish), A Foley (Shannon). Replacements: S Byrne (Blackrock College), R Corrigan (Greystones), M O'Driscoll (Cork Consitution), E Miller (Terenure), P Stringer (Shannon), R O'Gara (Cork Constitution), G D'Arcy (Lansdowne).

FIJI: W Serevi; F Lasagavibau, V Satala, S Bai, N Ligairi; N Little, J Rauluni; R Nyholt, G Smith (capt), B Cavubati; Api Naevo, S Raiwalui; A Mocelutu, A Doviverata, S Koyamaibole. Replacements: P Bai, I Rasila, I Rawaqa, S Tawake, S Rabaka, J Narruhn, I Mow.

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