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Dublin: 15 °C Sunday 21 October, 2018

Dillane determined to keep focus wider than just box-office Nakarawa

An inexperienced Ireland team will put an emphasis on their structure against Fiji.

OF THE STAR names smattered across Fiji’s team-sheet this weekend, there is none more exciting than their all-action second row.

Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try Gold standard: Leone Nakarawa celebrates scoring a try for Fiji 7s at Rio 2016. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Locks don’t always take top-billing when looking through a team with the flair filter on. Yet even the frankly awesome Nemani Nadolo doesn’t quite spark the thrill that the unconventional, running, passing, kicking, offloading, lineout-taking, tackle-making Nakarawa manages to do.

The Racing 92 man is precisely the sort of individual talent that Ireland will strive to limit this weekend. With an inexperienced team named for the second November series match, Joe Schmidt’s charges will look to keep a shape and structure on this Test match and so show they can perform a role that is repeatable against other opponents.

“Joe mentions it all the time, just fit in first, nail our roles and play in the system and try to excel through that,” says Ultan Dillane, whose 11th cap for Ireland will bring just a second start for his country.

Ultan Dillane and Leone Nakarawa DIllane hauls down Nakarawa in the tense 2016 clash that helped pave the way for Connacht's Pro12 title success. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“You can single him out but the majority of their squad are capable of that,” Dillane adds to brush off the notion of a personal duel with Nakarawa.

“They are really athletic, powerful, capable ball-carriers, who love that style of play. You can single out Nakawara, but Nadolo as well is going to be a force on the wing. (Niko) Matawalu as well, you’ve a lot of good players, (Akapusi) Qera, so it’s going to be a challenge.”

Rhys Ruddock, Jack Conan, Ultan Dillane and Tadhg Furlong Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

No danger of Dillane feeling anything close to complacency then, against the team nestled in between France and Argentina in the world rankings.

“It’s no easy feat by any means, they are powerful, athletic ball carriers and looking to keep the game alive, with some offloads.

It’s a tough 80 for us, but if we stick to the process hopefully we can get the job done.

“It’ll be good (to have a) packed house again this weekend, it’s a big challenge to keep your structure against a team like Fiji who love to break tackles with their big ball-carriers.

“It’s definitely going to be tough, but if we can build from last week, their performance has helped motivate the boys who didn’t play last week to do well this week. So hopefully we’ll get that done.”

Nadolo back in town as Fiji pack a punch in side to face Ireland

‘It’s always a concern’, but Schmidt backs new faces and combinations against Fiji

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Sean Farrell

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