Strong start vital for Irish against Scots insists skipper Paul O’Connell

Paul O'Connell addresses the Ireland players at Murrayfield on Friday
Paul O'Connell addresses the Ireland players at Murrayfield on Friday

Paul O’Connell has warned Ireland to beware of Scotland’s “nothing to lose” approach in battling against the Wooden Spoon in Saturday afternoon’s RBS 6 Nations finale.

Captain O’Connell expects Scotland to start at “100 miles an hour” in the Murrayfield clash, where Ireland can still retain their Six Nations title.

The Munster lock admitted Ireland adopted a no-fear mentality in denying England a Grand Slam in Dublin in 2011, at the end of a disappointing campaign.

Ireland were bidding to avoid their third defeat of the 2011 tournament and pulled off a stunning 24-8 victory, stopping England in their tracks.

O’Connell believes Ireland must be ready for winless Scotland to adopt the same approach this weekend.

“I think we’ve all been there. I remember being in the Aviva Stadium in 2011 when England were coming over to try to win a championship and we had struggled,” said O’Connell.

“We’d struggled for form and we used that game as a massive spark for us, we saw it as a great opportunity.

“We weren’t really playing for anything; we had nothing to lose, so we started at 100 miles an hour and didn’t slow down.

“So that’s why the preparation hasn’t changed.”

The way the final day’s play in the championship unfolds makes it dramatic, and nervy admitted O’Connell.

“It’s like the Heineken Cup or Champions Cup where it’s a dangerous place to go to start thinking about anything but winning the game,” he said.

“You’ll have a plan going into the game of how to beat a team and you’ll try to execute that as well as you can.

“That’s all we’ve spoken about and that’s all we’ve addressed.

“I’m sure things will happen throughout the day but our big focus is the start of the game, starting the game well, starting in disciplined fashion and getting ourselves off on the right foot.

“That’s the same as if we were coming over here to win by one point.

“That’s all you can do, and whatever happens, happens.” added O’Connell.