IRELAND COACH DECLAN KIDNEY yesterday pondered aloud the possibility that the Celtic Tiger era had created a generation of super confident Irish rugby players.
Now that we have drop-kicked our multi-billion payback, to the European Central Bank, to 2038, we have further reason to celebrate that decade of excess and 120,000 annual new car purchases.
Ireland go into tomorrow’s Six Nations clash with England on the back of two impressive wins and spurred on by the derring-do of their new wingers, Simon Zebo and Craig Gilroy.
Ireland captain Jamie Heaslip commented, “Simon and Craig definitely do have that young exuberance in them. Both are characters in different ways – they’re great squad men and great to have around.
He added, “A lot of it goes down to the pack and the guys in front of them that are giving them that space. When they have that space we’ve seen the gas and the step that they both have and what they are capable of.”
Irish lock Donncha O’Callaghan feels that injection of youthful fizz is vital, especially when facing a team that thundered them 30-9 last March.
He told TheScore.ie, “The changing room has changed a lot, even since that game. Motivation is different for different fellas.
There are guys in our dressing room right now who want to go out and be the next rock star. Other guys are driven by the motivation of playing England; that’s enough for them. For me it is the scar of last year. It’s something that hurts and you want to put it right.
“Maybe it is a bit of professional respect. You think you’re better than that.
“To be fair, they did a job on us last year because they were more of a combined unit than they had ever been when I played against them. They had guys from Wasps, Leicester, everywhere but they seemed really tight.”
O’Callaghan added, “We brought a little bit of confidence with us from the Autumn internationals, which was probably lacking at the end of last year’s Six Nations and certainly after the summer tour [top New Zealand].
“When guys are a little more confident, they’ve got scope to try things that they probably wouldn’t do if we’d gone two losses. We’re really confident at the moment and that leads, I think, to a greater skill level.”
The skill level displayed by Zebo’s boot flick to keep an attack on the move, before Cian Healy’s try, was off the charts.
“Sure that’s expected from anyone from Cork,” remarked O’Callaghan. “That’s standard issue down around our way.”
YouTube credit: RBS6Nations
O’Callaghan added, “I’ve no doubt he’ll be out with the Rockies [Blackrock Rockies GAA] in the summer doing a little bit more.
“He’s been great, a great fella. There’s a real buzz around the squad at present. It’s an enjoyable place to be. There’s some new faces that aren’t shy about coming forward, that’s great.”
*TheScore.ie will be live for Ireland v England from the Aviva Stadium from 2pm this Sunday.