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O'Driscoll wary of Boks backlash

Venue: Croke Park, Dublin Date: Saturday, 28 November Kick-off: 1430 GMT Coverage: Live coverage on BBC2, BBC Radio Ulster MW and the BBC Sport website

Brian O'Driscoll and Bryan Habana
Brian O'Driscoll bursts away from Bryan Habana on this year's Lions tour

Brian O'Driscoll has scoffed at suggestions that South Africa are on the slide as Ireland target the scalp of the world champions on Saturday.

The Springboks have been beaten by France, Leicester and Saracens on their current tour but O'Driscoll says Ireland face a huge task at Croke Park.

"No, South Africa are not a team in decline," said O'Driscoll.

"That's sections of the media trying to wind the South Africans up a little bit. It's not doing us any favours."

Victory against Italy on Saturday has been South Africa's solitary success in Europe and they have been replaced by New Zealand at the summit of the world rankings.

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.

They lost to France - boo hoo! They won't be crying about it

Brian O'Driscoll

Ireland, virtually at full strength and invigorated by their Grand Slam success, will have few better opportunities to upset the injury-struck Springboks.

But O'Driscoll predicts South Africa will be determined to finish an exhausting campaign on a triumphant note.

"They're the reigning world champions, have beaten the Lions and won the Tri-Nations," added O'Driscoll.

"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."

Adding spice to the contest is South Africa skipper John Smit's claims that a senior Ireland player created animosity between the Lions and Springboks this summer.


Smit insists the unnamed player declined an offer for the Lions to join the Springboks for a drink in their changing room after each Test.

With so many Irishmen contributing towards a brutal and compelling Test series - 10 of them won Lions caps with all but the injured Luke Fitzgerald in the 22 for Saturday - South Africa's first visit to Croke Park has taken on the guise of a grudge match.

However, O'Driscoll is playing down any suggestion of bad blood.

"Is there animosity? No," said the Ireland captain, who will be winning his 96th cap on Saturday.

"I'm sure we'll see a competitive edge as we always do when we face South Africa but there will certainly be no leftovers from the tour."

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see also
Boks switch Smit as Botha starts
26 Nov 09 |  Irish
O'Gara out as Sexton faces Boks
26 Nov 09 |  Irish
Kidney praise for fly-half Sexton
22 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland 41-6 Fiji
21 Nov 09 |  Irish
Kidney rejigs Ireland line-up
17 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
O'Driscoll backs team-mate Sexton
19 Nov 09 |  Irish
Sexton to make debut for Ireland
17 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland 20-20 Australia
15 Nov 09 |  Irish
O'Driscoll praises Irish attitude
15 Nov 09 |  Irish
Ireland v Australia photos
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Ireland v Australia as it happened
15 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Kidney has faith in his front row
12 Nov 09 |  Irish
Prop Healy wins first Ireland cap
11 Nov 09 |  Irish
Hayes ban reduced to five weeks
13 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union
England 9-18 Australia
07 Nov 09 |  Rugby Union
Horan out of Ireland autumn games
06 Nov 09 |  Irish
Henry called into Ireland squad
27 Oct 09 |  Rugby Union

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