Fergus McFadden had the unenviable task of coming off the bench to replace Brian O’Driscoll in the world’s most capped player’s final test on home soil.
O’Driscoll’s day ended on 61 minutes as the Aviva Stadium arose to salute Ireland’s greatest player a jovial McFadden made light of the situation.
“I was saying to Alain Rolland as he was putting the numbers through the system before he sent me on and I said to him wait to you hear the cheer when I get now. It was brilliant for Brian to get a standing ovation like that,” said McFadden
“He has been the cornerstone of Irish rugby for the last 15 years, he is a legend in the game and let’s hope his Irish career finishes on a high in Paris.”
“He has got a massive heart, I’ve been in tough training sessions and tough games with him and that is something that I have taken ahead of the flair and the flash that he produces, he never gives up and if you have that you can go a long way to being successful in this game.”
“He created three tries and a couple were out of nothing and the one from Jonny at the start took a bit of pressure of us , Brian won a couple of key turnovers for us on the ground and hopefully he can carry that form into Paris.”
“It was great scenes for his final game in Lansdowne Road/Aviva but the best send off would be if we can win the championship and personally I’ve never won any silverware in an Irish jersey and I’m desperate to get a medal.”
McFadden was one of three Irish players to come off the bench and score a try while Paddy Jackson also contributed with his kicking from hand and of the tee.
“I think hopefully there is a bit of food for thought for Joe concerning selection next week as it is a competitive squad at the moment , were under no illusions that it is going to be a squad that wins this and you seen how important the bench was when it came on for the last 20 and got those tries for the points difference and we’ll be looking to push on and we’ll probably need to be a bit better than that to win in France.”
“Squads win games and trophies in the current professional era, the games are so tasking no many players can get through them and keep that work rate going for 80 minutes, the bench looked to make that impact but first and foremost is about fitting in and not trying to do too much and I felt the guys probably did that.”
McFadden had glowing praise for Schmidt who coached him at Leinster as well as Ireland.
“He values heart very highly and I think any good rugby coach does if you can marry that with his detail and executing the basics very well you’ll be a player that will fit into his teams very quickly.”
“He puts a lot of value on the basics and I think I do them well, for me I’m just trying to get on and put pressure on the lads to get back in the team.”
“Joe is very respected in France for what he did at Clermont, he put massive backbone into their set up and they seem to have kicked on after he left and they were unlucky not to win the Heineken Cup last year.”