Highlights on Off The Ball

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Highlights on Off The Ball


Brian O'Driscoll | The Ireland players lacking aggression and 'anger'

Brian O'Driscoll joined us to preview Ireland v England, and spoke about a couple of players he w...


Brian O'Driscoll | The Ireland players lacking aggression and 'anger'

Brian O'Driscoll joined us to preview Ireland v England, and spoke about a couple of players he wants to see more from.

James Lowe's missed tackle on Huw Jones against Scotland rang alarm bells with O'Driscoll and Ronan O'Gara.

Brian O'Driscoll on James Lowe

Ireland team

"I don't know if he's a great tackler," O'Driscoll told Off The Ball.

"I heard Ronan O'Gara say that he didn't know if he has as much appetite for the defensive part of the game as the attacking side. My concerns would be: a guy that big and that physical, how is he not ending people?

"I know that he has an aggressiveness when he carries the ball into contact, it just doesn't seem to reciprocate when it comes to the defensive side of things. He is an arm-grabber, not a shoulder-hitter.

"I've never seen him absolutely belt someone and smash them into next week. Everything seems to be a little bit 'arm-y', and when you reach with arms you tend to go high. You tend not to reach low and get around the waist; that is where you get pushed off.

"That is what happened with Huw Jones, as soon as you reach with your arms, you are in a bad body position, so any shove off from him, he is going to be able to get the impetus from you to catapult yourself forward.

"I thought the writing was on the wall for James Lowe, he'll come back and he'll learn from the messages that have been handed down to him from Andy Farrell. But it is a pretty brutal business, test match rugby - you make a mistake or a couple of mistakes and someone is waiting in the wings to come in and replace you."

Jack Conan

Brian O'Driscoll Brian O'Driscoll believes that the selection of Conan at 8 is a 'clever' move given the respective situations of CJ Stander and Caelan Doris.

"It feels like a development as well as something with an eye on this game - one for the future too.

"I feel he has got the capacity - sometimes I wish he had a bit more anger to him; that he has all the physical attributes to be a great international player, but you feel as though he's just lacking that really nasty edge.

"The one that we see in Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien, Billy Vunipola, [Tom] Curry - I just don't know if he really wants to hurt people and he hates people when he carries into them and hits them.

"I think you really want to see that in the personality of your number 8, of really imposing themselves on the opposition and almost frightening them. He has not quite delivered that, but he is a different sort of player and he definitely gives you go-forward as he does for Leinster and now for Ireland."

'Kill his granny'?

To paraphrase John Giles, would Jack Conan 'kill his granny' for the cause, and does his ball-playing skill make up for a lack of 'hate'?

"If you look at the really great ball-carrying numbers 8s of the world - Billy Vunipola has an edge, someone like Duane Vermeulen - but then you have a Kieran Read, who doesn't look as though he'd kill his granny. But he has the skillset to deliver and the finesse to match the power up front, link play with backs - but it doesn't feel like he'd stand on you if he got the invitation.

"With Conan, there has been something niggling at me for the last four or five years, that I thought he was going to be this superb international player that brought this hardened edge and it just never quite transpired.

"But his form for Leinster when he has played has been very good, and he gives that other aspect; but he isn't that Sean O'Brien who is going to really step up to the opposition and scare them to make them think they have a fight on their hands."

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Brian O'Driscoll England Ireland O'Driscoll