Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Keego on...Mind games

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So we are approaching the time of the year where we put our provincial jerseys back in the cupboard and take out our beautiful green jerseys, some still stained with the tears of another 6 nations win all over them. Or is that the celebratory Guinness? Either way, the preparation for the RWC is ramping up and we roll into November in the best position we have ever been in……..again.
King Joe has picked just about the strongest squad he possibly could, Murray and Farrell being the only absentees, but if you look at the 3 new caps, Will Addison, Sam Arnold and Ross Byrne it appears to be as strong as it can be. It appears that lessons have been learned since the last world cup and it appears that the Ireland team are being organised to take an All Black scalp this November.
We will get back to Murray in a few paragraphs.
The squad for November:

Not a bad selection for the series. Very few players not operating at optimum. The captain still coming back into form, but aside from that there is strength everywhere. Which leads us to the squad to play Italy this weekend in Chicago.

Now we get into the mind games, the trust and the squad ethic that has been built. Aside from the players who are left in Carton house, just look at the squad heading to America. A lot of those players are thisclose to being in the match day squad for the rest of the series. JVDF, Scannell and even Addison are as close to a match day tracksuit as you can get. The players at home will be watching closely and maybe biting a few of the nails. A great thing that joe has created, he has taken away players ‘jersey security’. 9 and 10 aside.

So let’s move into the mind games that Ireland are playing going into the series. The one piece of the puzzle that Ireland have yet to jump into in recent memory. The squad has been improved, so now it is time for Mr nice Guy Joe to play some games. The one game omitted from the above squad is of course, Conor Murray. A player who is massively important to the team obviously. A player who has recently come out with the news that his ‘serious neck injury’ was in fact, a bulging disc that just needed rest time. He has shouted from the rooftops in the last 5 days that he is very close to being back on the pitch, he has even mentioned November as a return date. And you know that Hansen and the All Blacks have heard it, they are currently unsure about who will take the field against them. They are planning for 2 or 3 options, which is extra time of unsurity for them. After a season that is quite unlike the usual for them, this is another little issue for them to prepare for. It is fantastic to see Ireland step up and play these off the field games and will be interesting to see how it affects the All blacks.
If Murray is shown on the big screen in a match day tracksuit, the crowd will make a noise that will rattle the world champions.
I am loving Irelands new mental games, let’s see how they work. But first, it is important that the squad picked for Saturdays game against Italy put in a big performance.
I have been waiting too long to put my green jersey on.
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Keego (@nkeegan): Blogger, professional wrestler, sometime attempted rugby player (@TheThirsty3rds), professional procrastinator and attempted musician with a fondness for long walks on the bar, tea and the couch. Opinionated Leinster fan and constant gardener.

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Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019