Eddie O’Sullivan believes that the referee for Ireland versus the All Blacks this Saturday - Wayne Barnes - will struggle to control the match.
Eddie was speaking on Monday Night Rugby with Eir Sport, in response to comments by Johnny Sexton about the referee this afternoon. Sexton was keen to stress that Ireland needed to be aware of their discipline, having had bad experiences with Barnes in the past.
“Our discipline, on the list of things [that are important] – it’s up there," said Sexton.
“We have come on the wrong side of Wayne Barnes in the past, so it’s something that we are going to have to look at even more so this week. We try and play by the letter of the law but, for whatever reason, in certain games we haven’t got that right with him.
“We really need to have a look at ourselves and see how we can be extra vigilant there," concluded Sexton.
Eddie was in less conciliatory form on Wayne Barnes' ability to handle the showpiece this weekend.
“He has been around a long time, but my experience has been with him that if a game gets very frantic, he tends to lose control of it very easily and gets whistle-happy to calm it down. He can be very harsh in his calls," said Eddie.
“If the game turns into a very fast-paced, physical games – as it is probably likely to be – I think he could struggle. He seems to lose his composure.
“He is very good on the law, he understands the law very well as he’s a barrister by trade.
“I think, at times in certain games, he gets a bit flustered, ironically. He can be very whistle-happy and make very harsh calls. I think that could be a problem on Saturday if the game opens up and it is very frantic and there is a lot of physicality.
“If there’s an edge to it then – if there’s a couple of late hits or something […] it wouldn’t be the best place for him to be.
“Ireland are throwing out messages saying ‘we know that he penalises us more than any other referee.
“That is a tactical ploy by Joe Schmidt.”