Springboks

Matfield: O'Connell the best I've faced

2014-11-05 07:40
Paul O'Connell (AFP)
Cape Town - Springbok lock Victor Matfield says Ireland's Paul O'Connell is probably the best player he's ever played against.

The Boks start their four-game year-end tour with a clash against the Six Nations champions at Aviva Stadium on Saturday. It will be followed by Tests against England (London, November 15), Italy (Padova, November 22) and Wales (Cardiff, November 29).

The Springboks will be wary of Ireland's lineout and driving maul, and Matfield has singled out 35-year-old O'Connell as the danger man.

"I think he (O'Connell) is a fantastic player, I think he's probably the best player I've played against in my career,"  Matfield told the independent.ie website.

When asked why he rates the Irishman so highly, Matfield said O'Connell is a student of the lineout and that he puts in a lot of hours of analysing, preparing and getting his whole unit ready for the weekend.

Matfield also believes former Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal (current WP Director of Rugby) gave O'Connell "a lot of insight into how I think about the lineout" which makes it more difficult for him to face the Irishman.

South Africa and Ireland have played each other on 21 occasions. The Boks have won 16, Ireland four with one match ending in a draw.

The last meeting between the two teams was a close encounter, which South Africa won 16-12 in Dublin two years ago.

The Boks will named their team for Saturday's clash on Wednesday.

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