I think the back-row is a settled entity now but I would love to see Sean O’Brien at 8. You could move Jamie Heaslip to 7 as he’s more of a ground-hog. With Sean at the base of the scrum he would get the ball at lot earlier. He is not your typical 8 size-wise — Jamie is — but, in terms of running ability, there would be no-one better off the base.It might be worth Joe Schmidt having a look at — and the All Blacks would not expect it — but I don’t think there will be any changes there.Sean O’Brien has only played once for Ireland at No.8 — against Italy in 2011. He replaced Heaslip during the Lions’ second Test against Australia. INPHO/Dan SheridanI think Luke Marshall had a fine game and offered himself for a lot of carries and work. His performance was one of the positives for Ireland and played well, apart from the mix-up with himself and Ian Madigan that let Quade Cooper in for that try.The expectations for the New Zealand game will be low but Ireland can look at England’s performance at the weekend and take heart. The English competed well up front and I believe we can do the same. It is a battle we can win. Ireland can put it up to their forwards and — this is the key part — keep the ball away from the Kiwi backs as much as possible.I know, from experience, just how lethal their backs can be. They can ride tackles and take two or three players out with offloads before the next guy does the same and takes them another 20 metres up the pitch. To a man, they will make space and create. They are always seeking out the gaps.I always found that playing New Zealand was like playing France. You watch the channels and try to limit them at the breakdown and around the fringes. You have to defend as a whole team.Ireland can’t allow it to become an open, free-flowing game. As negative as that sounds, that is how we have to play. Do you want to play attractive rugby or do you want to win games? Only when we start winning as much as New Zealand do should you revisit that question.David Wallace [@wa22y] is an ambassador for Core150 protein shakers. Check them out onCore150.com.‘No need for wholesale changes despite Ireland’s upsetting performance’ – ByrneVaradkar ‘very confident’ Ireland will bid for Rugby World Cup IT WAS VERY hard to watch Ireland’s loss to Australia at the weekend. It was an extension of the first-half of the Samoa game, where our kicking game was all over the shop.Ireland’s kicking was very loose and seemed to gift the Australian back three possession rather than limit them. Kicks were not going to touch and often went straight down the pitching, sparking waves of counter-attacks.We were off the pace in terms of physicality, with the opposition up for the fight and Ireland lacking. We got a turnover off a poach early on and I can’t recall too much positive after that. Australia possess some unbelievable athletes and seem to be playing consistently well now.By picking Devin Toner and Paul O’Connell in the second-row, we looked ready to go after the Australian lineout but we rarely kicked up the line. We offered them easy ball, under little pressure from runners, and were under the cosh for long periods. That type of defending is energy-sapping and we seemed demoralised by the final quarter.Sean O’Brien did most of our carrying but it was an easy read for the Wallabies. They said ‘Look, we’ll put two men on him’. Once they did that, they stopped a lot of Irish attacks. We kicked a lot of ball from outside our 22 and Cian Healy or Peter O’Mahony never seemed to get into positions to carry and attack.