/ Rugby

O'Brien targets All Blacks clash

Updated: Wednesday, 10 Nov 2010 22:57

Sean O'Brien will start at openside flanker for Ireland against Samoa
Sean O'Brien will start at openside flanker for Ireland against Samoa

Ireland flanker Sean O'Brien intends to use his full Test debut to convince head coach Declan Kidney he should start against New Zealand.

O'Brien has replaced David Wallace at openside for Saturday's autumn international against Samoa at Aviva Stadium as one of 10 changes to the side edged by South Africa.

The 23-year-old made his debut last November and has been limited to just three Test appearances from the bench amid fierce competition for places in Ireland's back row.

But having been given his opportunity, he intends making the number seven jersey his own.

‘This is a good chance for me to show Declan how good I am. Samoa are a tough side and I'm looking forward to it,’ he said.

‘Hopefully I will have a good game and then selection will be up in the air the following week against the All Blacks. I want to get my role right and have a good game.

‘The competition in the back row is unbelievable. There are lots of experienced lads there.

‘I'm the youngest and that hasn't always stood me in good stead but at the other end of it, I'm eager and want to prove a point.

‘It hasn't been hard to stay patient. It's not like I'm at the end of my career.

‘I'm young and have been picking up experience the whole time. Even when training with those lads you're learning.

‘You have to stay patient. If you get down because you're not getting an opportunity then it can affect your game.

‘I'm happy with the way my game's gone and I have to back it up every week.’

O'Brien also spoke highly of David Wallace, the long-standing Ireland number seven, who is still seen as Ireland's best option heading towards World Cup 2011.

‘David's been there for a long time now. He's a great player and is sound in every aspect of the game,’ he said.

‘I'm probably more of a man on the ground, but I like to carry like David does. That's a strong point that all of us have.

‘For me it's about getting selected every week and trying to prove a point.’

Denis Leamy's greater versatility ensured he was used as back row cover from the bench against South Africa, so O'Brien watched events unfold at Lansdowne Road from the stands.

It was a dispiriting performance from a team that has ambitions of becoming a genuine force at next year's World Cup.

But for a futile, late fightback inspired by Ronan O'Gara the efficient but unspectacular Springboks would have prevailed far more comfortably.

Ireland face Samoa on the back of a six match losing streak, including four successive Tests, but O'Brien insists that sequence does not add any extra baggage to Saturday.

‘I was sitting in the stands watching the game,’ he said.

‘We performed very well in the last 20 minutes but up to then everything was a little bit sloppy with some dropped balls and forced passes.

‘We upped our game in the last 20 minutes, got into a rhythm and a pattern. Things went well then. It was only the small things that went wrong.

‘If we get those right this week then it will all come together for us.

‘We can't go out there saying we have to win this game. Hopefully if we work hard we will get the right result.’