Brian O'Driscoll expertly lays out how Ireland will look to combat Springbok physicality
"In years gone by we have come up second best on that physicality front."
Ireland have been impressive so far, winning their opening two games against Romania and Tonga, but South Africa will pose a much bigger challenge.
The Sprinkboks' physicality is a point of concern for Andy Farrell's men, as they have struggled with that before in previous competitions.
However, O'Driscol believes that this current crop are much better prepared for their hard-hitting opposition and explains how they can combat it by playing to their strengths.
"I was saying this about the Tonga game and it isn't just pressing repeat," said O'Driscol.
"The game is about physicality, it's about confrontation, it's about winning the collisions, be it be in possession or in defence.
"If you don't win that contact zone, it's going to be a hard day at the office. That contact zone exists in the scrum and it exists in every tackle, so you would argue that in the past when Ireland have come unstuck, they have come off second best in that regard.
"That's why big teams like Argentina, big teams like South Africa, big teams in the past like England and New Zealand, have got the better of us because they have imposed themselves on us physically.
"Whereas I think we have a game-plan now where, yes we have to be able to match them, particularly in defence, but I think we have a game plan to make it a less attritional game, and more decision-making, and that plays to our strengths a little bit more.
"That's why we have gotten ourselves so many victories over the course of the last couple of years, it's because we have pulled our way of playing to our strengths and that's what will need to be continued if we are to have any luck in this World Cup."
The former Ireland captain is hopeful that the team has learned from past mistakes, and have found a way to prepare for that physicality test when it inevitably comes knocking.
"I think so much of this World Cup we will find out what that step up looks like, and if we're honest, in years gone by we have come up second best on that physicality front," O'Driscol continued.
"New Zealand four years ago, Argentina before that, Wales before that, Argentina and France before that, so that has been where we have fallen down.
"The level of World Cup intensity does ratch it up on Six Nations, on summer tours, it just does. Everyone realises that they have eyes on the prize, and they realise that this is the one that everyone looks for, once every four years.
"That's why the preparation involved, the cohesiveness of all of the team, is that bit more clear, so rather than worry about what might be later on, I think a big part is just getting it right in the early games, and playing our way into being a more confident team, and reasserting why we are where we are - we have got a high ceiling, there's a new found respect for Ireland, so just reinforcing that within our own minds.
"Then we still have to deliver against one of the most physical teams in the group stage, in South Africa, so hopefully there won't be a big fallout on personnel, because it will be undoubtedly incredibly attritional."
This Saturday we will find out as Ireland play South Africa in their third game of the 2023 World Cup, kicking off at 8pm.
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