O'Leary - Confidence is high
Grand Slam champions focused ahead of RBS Six Nations opener
By James Mason. Last Updated: 04/02/10 4:26pm
Ireland: Defending champions
Scrum-half Tomas O'Leary insists none of the Ireland players will be guilty of complacency during the forthcoming RBS Six Nations campaign.
"Confidence in the camp is high and there's good morale among the players. But coming into the camp, none of us have thought 'I'm a Grand Slam winner from last year'"
Tomas O'Leary Quotes of the week
The Grand Slam champions head into the tournament opener against Italy on Saturday full of confidence, with the side having completed an unbeaten 2009.
The Irish have not lost in eight Tests and two friendlies, a run which includes a 15-10 victory over world champions South Africa.
Despite the success of the team and having not tasted defeat in over a year, scrum-half O'Leary insists the players are taking nothing for granted and are fully-focused on defending their title.
He said: "Confidence in the camp is high and there's good morale among the players. But coming into the camp, none of us have thought 'I'm a Grand Slam winner from last year'.
"Instead, we've come in focusing on the challenges ahead. The provinces are going well in the Heineken Cup and Magners League and that definitely helps.
"We're used to winning and expect to win and we have a happy squad now, which is good.
"But we know how difficult it is to defend the Grand Slam and complacency will not be an issue.
"It makes it more difficult when there is greater expectation to win the game.
"There is also the expectation we have of ourselves as we're looking to improve on our performances last year, though the result remains the key thing."
O'Leary admits that Italy will be no pushovers on Saturday, with the Azzurri's physical power a particular area of concern.
He added: "I played against Italy last season and the game was very tight in the first half. They're very physical in attack and defence.
"They did very well against New Zealand in the autumn. Their best players play in France, so how their provincial teams perform in the Heineken Cup doesn't reflect their strength."