Springbok lock Victor Matfield has praised Ireland veteran Paul O’Connell ahead of their mouth-watering battle at the Aviva Stadium.
South Africa lock Victor Matfield has praised Ireland veteran Paul O’Connell ahead of their mouth-watering battle at the Aviva Stadium this weekend.
The experienced duo will collide in Dublin and before kick-off, the 37-year-old South African has paid tribute to the Munster and Ireland legend.
“I think Paul O’Connell is a fantastic player, I have said it before, I think he is probably the best player I have played against in my career,” he said.
“He is also a student of the line-out, you can see he puts in a lot of hours analysing and preparing, getting his whole unit ready for the weekend.
“It is always tough going up against him.”
Matfield added that he believes former Ireland forwards coach Gert Smal helped O’Connell to read how he plays the game, which makes their battles all the more intriguing at the line-out.
“I also think when Gert Smal was here he gave a lot of insight into how I think about the line-out to Paul, so it makes it more difficult,” said Matfield.
“It is always a great battle against him and he has some great jumpers with him in that unit so we know it’s going to be very tough.
“Like I said, we know we have to be accurate in what we do because they will definitely put pressure on us.
“The rolling maul is very important to us. Looking at them as well, they were very successful in sacking the maul during the Six Nations, especially.
“They stopped it very well, so we know we need to do our things right and hopefully the referee will be very strict on how to stop the maul.
“If we do our things right it is a lot easier for the ref to see if they are stopping the maul legally or not.
“It’s important for us to get our set-up right, to get it started and from then it is easier.”