RUGBY : Brian O’Driscoll has scoffed at suggestions South Africa are a team in decline as Ireland target the prized scalp of the world champions at Croke Park on Saturday.
Brian O’Driscoll has scoffed at suggestions South Africa are a team in decline as Ireland target the prized scalp of the world champions at Croke Park on Saturday.
The Springboks’ outstanding season is in danger of ending with a whimper having slumped to defeats by France, Leicester and Saracens on their European tour. Victory against Italy on Saturday has been their solitary success and they have been replaced by New Zealand at the summit of the world rankings.
But O’Driscoll predicts South Africa will be determined to finish an exhausting campaign on a triumphant note. “No, South Africa are not a team in decline,” said the Lions and Leinster centre. “That’s just sections of the media trying to wind the South Africans up a little bit, but it’s not doing us any favours!”
It is a far cry from an honour-laden summer that saw them edge the Lions across three enthralling Tests and seize their first Tri-Nations title since 2004.
Ireland, virtually at full strength and invigorated by their Grand Slam success, will have few better opportunities to upset the injury-struck Springboks.
He added: “They’re the reigning world champions, have beaten the Lions and won the Tri-Nations.
“They lost to France – boo hoo! They won’t be crying about it, they’ll be looking to put it right against us in the last game of what’s been a great season for them.
“If we get the upper hand we’ll say we’ve beaten a very strong South African team.”