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South Africa v Ireland: Ireland players feel fresh and ready – Paul O’Connell

O’Connell explains that Ireland’s preparations for the meetings with the Boks have been much as they would be for series of matches at other times of the year.

“We’ve just being a little bit careful with the travel. We arrived in two groups and at different times and we were careful in that first session, but we haven’t changed how we’ve trained a whole lot if this was a November international or it was a Six Nations.

“The players feel good and they feel fresh and they feel ready.

“There won’t be an asterisk after the match saying who was fresher and who was less fresh, so it is what it is.”

The former Ireland second row knows the tourists face a formidable challenge against a South African side led by former Munster coach Rassie Erasmus.

Ireland have won the past three games between the teams but only one of 10 matches the sides have played in South Africa.

“They are world champions. They have good continuity in their playing group. They know what they stand for and I reckon there is a lot of confidence in their group at the moment so it’s a massive challenge for us to be away from home, but our boys are looking forward to it,” added O’Connell.

“They’re an excellent set piece side, an excellent lineout side, always have been.

“We’ve been a little specific about them but it’s been mainly about us doing our stuff better across the board and boys enjoy doing that. We enjoy focusing on ourselves.

“You have to focus on the opposition and what they are going to do but by and large we concentrate on ourselves a little bit more than we did in my playing days.”

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