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O'Connell fully focused on Wales
28 Aug 2015 19:07
Captain Paul O’Connell’s last match for the national side at Aviva Stadium in Dublin comes against the side he made a memorable debut against over 13 years ago, but there’s precious little room for sentiment in the heart of the veteran lock as he prepares to face Wales in Dublin on Saturday.
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O’Connell has expressed a degree of ennui with the hype that inevitably surrounds a series of long goodbyes.
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“You end up at a stage where it’s ‘the last’ everything,” O’Connell told RTÉ Sport.
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“It’s your last game for Munster in Thomond Park, it’s your last game for Munster, it’s your last game for Ireland in Aviva, and it all drags on a bit.
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“If you get bogged down by it or caught up in it, it just serves to distract you from your preparation.
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“There’ll be a time for looking back at this and maybe tomorrow evening I’ll give it a bit of thought.”
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Ireland beat Wales 35-21 in their opening World Cup warm-up clash three weeks ago, but both teams are unrecognisable from that game, with Wales showing 12 changes - wing Alex Cuthbert, centre Scott Williams and flanker Justin Tipuric are the solitary starting XV survivors - and Ireland making nine switches.
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O’Connell expects a far more potent Wales challenge this time around and said: “It’s a massive test.
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“They have three games, this will be their second one, and they’ve pretty much gone with a full team tomorrow. We’re aware of where they were in their training curve in that first game and we’re aware that they’ll be in a far better position in their training curve in this game.
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“It’s a game that the Welsh will have targeted in a big way, so for us it makes for the perfect challenge in our preparation.”
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