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So we roll into game three of this world cup campaign and the rollercoaster of emotions continues to rumble onwards.
The team move to Shizuoka to regroup after a tough loss against a monster Japanese side. We do not need to go over old ground here. The team has reviewed that game, as have we so let’s move on to the game against Russia.
Firstly, this is both a positive and a negative game for Ireland. A 5 day turnaround is important to get back out on the pitch to get everything right and begin the job or exorcizing the demons of last weekend. The team get to right a wrong and to do that quickly is great for mind-set. The negative is, that against Russia Ireland cannot win for winning. This is a game that Ireland is expecting to put 50 points on the opposition. If that is 40 points then it is a failure. So that is added pressure on the team.
Let’s look at the team selected to start: Kilcoyne Scannell Ryan (John) Beirne Kleyne Ruddock POM Murphy McGrath Sexton © Earls Aki Ringrose Conway Kearney
With subs of: Cronin, Porter, Furlong, Henderson, Stander, Carberry, Carty, and Larmour
So looking at that team, it looks, for the most part to be the team we would have all picked for the last 2 group games. The only change being the captain. The captaincy has been taken from POM (the usual vice-captain) and passed to Sexton. This is an interesting and worrying change. The 10 already has to run the show, make the calls and manage the game. Adding the responsibility of captaincy is not something to be done when pressure is mounting. Not that Sexton can’t handle it, he can of course, but why add more pressure on to the lad? He is nursing a quad/groin that the nation is hanging off, so should he be asked to captain? The big change is that supporters are now questioning the management staff for the first time in nearly 18 months. I mean properly questioning. This is worrying. Joe is hitching his wagon to the Sexton truck, the man he trusts the most in the squad, a player who runs the game beyond reproach but also a player who can be temperamental when dealing with authority. A bit like myself, but I will never be asked to captain my country.
Ringrose has been playing every game, and is there just in case Johnny’s groin isn’t up to kicking. Carberry is not fit yet, the slow reintroduction is the right call, but surely the plan was Carty to start (pre japan result of course)
So how will this go? Ireland will win and win big. This must be an 80 minute mauling, an 80 minute destruction of Russia. There can be no other result. Russia have missed 70 more tackles in the tournament so far, so Ireland must A.G.F (always go forward) and convert the scoring opportunities.
I really cannot under play how important this game is. The team and management know how important it is so it is important to play as if you are a favourite for the tournament. There is still a chance to top the group, 10 points is a must in the last 2 games. Japan still has Samoa and Scotland to play. I was hoping for Samoa to show up against the Scots but they were absent, maybe they are saving their combative play for Japan. Scotland can also channel their stubbornness to stop the hosts topping the group. But all that is for nothing if Ireland does not perform and put the points up in the last 2 games.
It is all between the ears!
Ireland to win by a big score
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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