Ireland v Argentina, Aviva Stadium, November 28
O'Driscoll throws down the gauntlet
November 26, 2010
Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll is determined to finish the year on a high © Getty Images
Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll has backed his side to end a largely disappointing autumn campaign on a positive note against Argentina on Sunday.
A solitary victory over Samoa did little to hide the shortcomings evident in defeat to South Africa and New Zealand but O'Driscoll believes if they build on their cavalier display against the All Blacks, they can give a troubled year a rousing finale.
"It's been good and bad at times this autumn," said the captain and Leinster centre. "Obviously from a results points of view, which everything is based on, it's disappointing that we've only won one of three.
"Having said that, we played our best rugby last weekend so we must continue in that vein, putting it together for a full 80 minutes. You can't leave anything behind with one Test left in the series so we'll be going out Sunday with all guns blazing."
Sunday's protagonists have become embittered rivals with little love lost on either side. They have met on 11 previous occasions, with all but one of those games contested since 1999 and three of them occurring at a World Cup. Full-blooded and feisty encounters, they are well matched with usually only a single score settling the outcome.
Argentina's style is rarely easy on the eye but O'Driscoll is full of admiration for a side that finished third at the last World Cup. "It's a special fixture because we've built up quite a lot of history together over the last 10 years or so," he said. "It's not quite become a diary game, but not far off it. We've played them at the last three World Cups. We've lost twice and won once.
"They're always very tight, hard and physical games. When you play against Argentina it's real, honest Test rugby. We both respect one another, but we both want to win badly and that's why it's become a special fixture.
"If you look at our previous matches they tend not to be things of beauty. Argentina make it difficult for you and that's part of their game plan, trying to stop you having possession.
"I'm not speaking ill of them by saying they try to turn it into a dogfight because that plays to their strengths. They have a big, strong pack. They're huge, huge men and it will be the same this weekend. We must vary our game to keep them guessing. You can't take them on at their strengths, you must move the ball around."
Ireland faced heavy criticism this month until they burst into life against New Zealand, a 38-18 defeat failing to do their performance justice. O'Driscoll is pleased with the way the squad has remained tight-knit throughout their five weeks in camp.
"We haven't played our best rugby in this series but it's good that we're not sick of the sight of one another given that some of the results haven't gone our way," he said. "That speaks volumes for the way we enjoy training and the way we go about playing. It's been good fun and as long as that lasts you won't have guys getting bored.
"Part of it is the pressure on the guys in the team so that no one can be complacent, everyone has to train and play extremely well."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.