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O'Driscoll prefers indoors in Melbourne

By John Salvado 10/06/2008 06:25:23 PM Comments (0)

No-one is looking forward to the roof closing at Telstra Dome for Saturday's rugby Test more than Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll.

The world's best centre was a frustrated man as driving rain and bitter cold turned last weekend's clash with New Zealand in Wellington into a war of attrition.

The All Blacks won 21-11, with Ireland making two changes for the one-off game against the Wallabies.

Experienced halfback Peter Stringer comes into the starting lineup in place of Eoin Reddan, while hooker Rory Best replaces Jerry Flannery.

Stringer, a veteran of 84 Tests, is set to be opposed to Australian debutant Luke Burgess.

"What Strings has is an abundance of experience and confidence and what he also does is, he's probably one of the best passing scrum-halves in the world, if not the best," O'Driscoll said.

"That extra second from a backline point of view can be invaluable."

Australian five-eighth Matt Giteau singled out O'Driscoll, young fullback Robert Kearney and winger Shane Horgan as Ireland's best strike weapons when the tourists attack with ball in hand.

"I would certainly like to think this weekend that if we get some sort of quality ball we have plenty of guys within the team who are capable of doing special things with the ball and creating something out of nothing," agreed O'Driscoll, who first made his name in Australia as a star member of the 2001 touring British Lions team.

"... from a back's point of view you want to express yourself.

"You want to run with the ball, you want to take people on, you want to get off-loads because that's the way I was brought up to play the game and enjoy the game.

"I don't like having to chase kicks all day or crash the ball up just setting targets."

Ireland have not won on Australian soil since 1979, a record the team under interim coach Michael Bradley is eager to end on Saturday in Robbie Deans's first match in charge of the Wallabies.

"They'll be trying to play their way into it and not try and pull out miracle plays early on," said O'Driscoll.

"They'll just want to grow into playing Test rugby again.

"I've always said that I think the Australians are the best thinkers in the game and certainly when you've had a halfback pairing of (Stephen) Larkham and (George) Gregan, they were very smart and canny footballers.

"There's certain guys like Giteau and (Stirling) Mortlock who are of that mould.

"They are heads-up rugby players and that's the way it should be done."

Australia name their team on Wednesday morning.

Ireland: Robert Kearney, Shane Horgan, Brian O'Driscoll (capt), Paddy Wallace, Tommy Bowe, Ronan O'Gara, Peter Stringer, Jamie Heaslip, David Wallace, Denis Leamy, Paul O'Connell, Donncha O'Callaghan, John Hayes, Rory Best, Marcus Horan. Res: Jerry Flannery, Tony Buckley, Mick O'Driscoll, Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan, Geordan Murphy, Girvan Dempsey.

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