O'Driscoll seeks out positives

 

Brian O'Driscoll and Eddie O'Sullivan have united in demanding a vast improvement against France - but have managed to take some comfort from yesterday's disappointing performance at Lansdowne Road.

Ireland kicked off their Six Nations campaign with victory over Italy but it was a dismal performance which has shattered the air of optimism shrouding the national side.

A daunting trip to Paris is their next championship appointment and they must produce a significant improvement if they are to escape a heavy defeat on Saturday.

But while skipper O'Driscoll warns more of the same will lead to ruin in the French capital, he insists Italy's commitment ensured the match was always going to be a war of attrition.

"If we go out and play like that against France we'll be in serious trouble," he said. "Italy are a hard side who played well. We didn't play well but managed to grind out a win. There will always be games like that.

"Six Nations rugby is always difficult, whether you're playing France, Italy or England. I'm an eternal optimist and I'll try to take the positives out of this result."

Italy's aggressive defence, especially in midfield where Mirco Bergamasco and Gonzalo Canale caused havoc with a raft big hits, clearly rattled the Irish.

The Italians closed down the space so effectively that Ronan O'Gara's crossfield kicks to the wing were the only successful avenue of attack.

O'Sullivan has demanded more penetration against France and the Ireland coach suspects that will come against a side which likes to put as much width on the ball as possible.

"France will a different game. If we don't get over the gainline we'll be in trouble," he said.  "Having said that France will throw the ball around and it will be a more open game. That will suit us. Italy controlled the pace of the game, slowing it down.

"Next week won't be so stop start, it will be a lot livelier. We'll have to set out our stall and get a platform to run off. We must get over the gainline if we are to generate momentum."