/ Rugby

"We are not playing here for second best," insists Brian O'Driscoll

Updated: Thursday, 14 Jun 2012 20:52 | Comments

Ireland playing to win, says O'Driscoll

Captain Brian O'Driscoll insists Ireland "are not playing here for second best" as they look to respond to their emphatic defeat by the All Blacks when they meet again in Christchurch on Saturday.

Declan Kidney's side went down 42-10 in the first Test in Auckland with debutant winger Julian Savea running in a hat-trick inside 43 first-half minutes.

Ireland had no answer to the pace and power of the world champions and in response Kidney has made a number of changes to his line-up which will now include 10 Leinster players.

For O'Driscoll it is essential to respond positively to the defeat at Eden Park and he said: "Every time you pull on a Test jersey, irrespective of the occasion, it is special.

"This is no different. We are not playing here for second best."

O'Driscoll is determined to make his mark in Christchurch - the city where he suffered his shoulder injury as captain of the British & Irish Lions in 2005.

"Time heals all wounds," he said, "even shoulder wounds."

O'Driscoll conceded his side would face an emotional rollercoaster as Test rugby returns to an area for the first time since it was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes in 2011.

The players toured the earthquake 'red zone' in downtown Christchurch yesterday and O'Driscoll acknowledged the game would be emotionally charged but he is hoping for support from some Irish abroad.

He said: "I get the feeling that there are quite a few Paddys in Christchurch. We were told at training today that every Irish person in the area was trying to get a ticket for the game.

"We'd like to give them something to cheer about too."

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen expects Ireland to produce a far better performance, saying: "We are expecting Ireland to improve, as they are a nation with a 'never-say-die' attitude so what we did last time won't be good enough."

Kidney has brought in Kevin McLaughlin at blindside flanker to replicate the back row that started in the province's Heineken Cup final win over Ulster in May.

Props Mike Ross and Cian Healy have passed fitness tests and join Rory Best in the front row while Fergus McFadden, scorer of Ireland's solitary try last week, retains his spot on the right wing.

Simon Zebo, who looked lively in the first Test, drops to defence as Ulster winger Andrew Trimble returns to the side.

O'Driscoll resumes his midfield partnership with Gordon D'Arcy, who comes in for the injured Keith Earls.

Rob Kearney starts at full-back while Kidney has resisted the temptation to pair Leinster half-backs Jonathan Sexton, who starts, and Eoin Reddan. Conor Murray retains the number nine jersey.

The coach admitted Eoin Reddan was unfortunate to miss out on elevation to the starting scrum-half role but insisted the player's provincial allegiances did not come into his team decisions.

Dan Tuohy and Donnacha Ryan resume their second row partnership, with Kidney emphasising the Ulster man's proficiency at the line-out as the primary reason why Donncha O'Callaghan remains on the replacements' bench.

McLaughlin has come back well from an ankle injury earlier in the year, the Dubliner stepping up for his side in the final victory over Ulster and did a lot of grunt work at the breakdown, which allowed Sean O'Brien to make damaging up-field breaks.

Kidney said, "It was a close call between Kevin and Peter O'Mahony. It is about freshening it up a bit but the fact that Kevin will (now) be part of a back row unit many times before, which helps."

He added, "Usually a back row will plunder well if the front row are doing well ahead of them."

The All Blacks have made two changes to their squad following the series-ending knee injury to Victor Vito.

Adam Thomson comes in at blindside flanker while the uncapped Sam Cane moves up to take his place on the bench

User contributions and/or comments do not, unless specifically stated, represent the views of RTÉ.ie or RTÉ.
Click here for Terms of use
Live!
Powered by NewsWhip