“This is the only permutation that works for me : if you can't beat a team you've beaten fifteen times in a row in the professional era, you don't deserve to play among the top eight rugby-playing nations in the world.”
I took a lot of stick from one commenter in particular for posting that on the HoR Facebook page back in 2011 ahead of our clash with Italy, but I stuck by it then, and I don’t feel much different today.
Hey...I get how Joe & the squad have been cautious during the week. I even get how the Irish mainstream media have been cautious. We can’t take anything for granted especially in a World Cup, even if the bookies do have us as 20-point favourites.
And we as Irish fans are well used to being afraid to say too much before contests because yes, a lot of things can go wrong on the day.
But my simple assertion is this...Joe & the lads have prepared for this tournament with a view to still having a match to play come the final weekend. And if that is our goal, we need to be able to put away a team like Italy, even with their talismanic skipper Parisse returned to the starting lineup.
The Italians appear to be in disarray in their camp, though Sergio’s mere presence will no doubt fire them up on the day. Once we can stay focused at the breakdown and keep the penalties to a minimum we should keep their side of the scoreboard down, and when it comes to attack, same as ever, we need that good old “Joe-ism” called “accuracy” to see us through.
There are of course a couple of notable absentees from Joe’s “preferred” lineup, with Rob Kearney and Jared Payne sitting this one out yet both are available for next week. On the evidence of our matches so I far I have no reason to doubt Simon Zebo and Keith Earls will both do fine jobs in their stead, though the displays would probably have to be pretty phenomenal to climb the pecking order should the others return for France.
Bookies say 20 eh? I might go a shade higher, but my wishes are no less than the last 2 weeks. 5 pool points and no injuries would be “job done”. And yes, that bonus would be extremely handy as it would nudge us ahead of France on the table. If pressed for a margin prediction I’ll say 23-25, though it will probably take two late scores to get there.
I firmly believe it’s ok to be positive for this World Cup. Not arrogant, not presumptive, just positive. Show the boys in green we know they can do it. Here’s to a third satisfying weekend in a row.
#COYBIG #ShoulderToShoulder #FourProudProvinces #TrustJoe