Six Nations 2014: Paul O’Connell backs Ireland to triumph
Six Nations 2014: Ireland captain Paul O'Connell believes his side have what it takes to emerge as tournament winners
It’s now four years and counting since Ireland lifted the Six Nations Grand Slam in 2009 but after running the world’s No.1 side New Zealand close in the autumn – Paul O’Connell insists 2014 could be their year.
It’s all change for Ireland; Joe Schmidt is now in charge, legendary No.10 Ronan O’Gara will be missing and arguably the worlds greatest ever centre Brian O’Driscoll will be playing in his final Six Nations.
I think we have a great chance
Preparations for the 2014 season are already in full swing – Schmidt held a festive Christmas training camp last month to pick over the bones of Ireland’s last-gasp loss to the All Blacks.
But despite two away-day trips to Twickenham to face England and the Stade de France to play the French – O’Connell is confident Ireland will finally find their form again in this year’s competition.
“It was a tough video session,” said O’Connell. “The whole camp over Christmas was tough, because a lot of the issues from that game were repeated – and repeated several times – and repeated slowly.
“You find yourself looking at the screen, telling yourself to get off the ground, because you know what is coming next. Certainly, it is something that will haunt us for some time.
“But we are back in the Six Nations and if we can use that to kick start something special for the team; it’s not the end of the world.
“It’s hard to put your finger on (referring to recent Ireland struggles in the tournament). We’ve been very close.
“In the mid-2000s we were always one game away. There was massive relief when 2009 finally happened. Since then it has been very frustrating.
“We don’t have 14 teams to choose from, like France, so injuries can hurt us. But there is an excellent work ethic in the camp, and we will be consistent. I think we have a great chance.”
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