Irish fortress awaits Boks
Dublin - Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll said the team were glad to be "back where we belong" ahead of their return to Lansdowne Road to take on world champions South Africa.
For the past four years Ireland have been temporary lodgers across Dublin at Croke Park, the home of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA).
But, following a 410 million euros (357 million pounds, 578 million dollars) redevelopment they return to a 'wrap-around Lansdowne Road ground, that shares a location, but hardly anything else, with the charming yet ramshackle stadium that once stood on the same site.
However, star centre O'Driscoll is concerned the new Lansdowne, which makes its 'Test debut' on Saturday, could prove just as inspiring to Ireland's opponents as it is to the home side.
"It's a hugely exciting prospect," O'Driscoll told reporters at Lansdowne Road here on Friday. "We do see this as our home and, as great as it was being at Croke Park, this is where we belong.
"It might look vastly different from the last time we played here but essentially this is the home of Irish rugby and it's about trying to make this a difficult place to play.
"Coming into the old Lansdowne Road there were gale force winds to help you out or conditions a lot of teams would not have been used to playing in.
"This time around it's maybe easier to play in the environment that's been created here.
"So it will be our job to make it difficult by the brand of rugby we play and the standards we set ourselves."
South Africa head into this match, the first of a grand slam tour, on the back of a dire Tri-Nations that saw them win just once in six matches.
The Springboks, who've been forced to leave 13 players at home through injury, have also lost their last three games against Ireland, all in Dublin.
But O'Driscoll said: "I've never seen a poor touring Springbok team and I don't envisage them being any different this weekend.
"Having lost the last three games in Dublin, I'm sure they'll be trying to make a point on this tour of changing that."
But while South Africa are in the midst of a poor run, so too are Ireland following a Six Nations that culminated in a shock loss to Scotland and subsequent June defeats away to New Zealand (38-7) and Australia (16-15).
That leaves Ireland needing to win this weekend to avoid an unwanted trio of defeats by the Tri-Nations.
Ireland coach Declan Kidney said the lesson of losing to the All Blacks was "never panic" while the narrow reverse against the Wallabies showed "we just need to finish the bits off we created".