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'We don’t want to see them too excited, we want them nice and calm'

The Emerging Ireland coaches are hoping for a decisive performance from their halfbacks.

Ulster scrum-half Nathan Doak.
Ulster scrum-half Nathan Doak.
Image: Evan Treacy/INPHO

IRELAND’S COACHES ARE hoping to see a calm and decisive performance from halfback pairing Nathan Doak and Jack Crowley in tomorrow’s first game of their South Africa tour.

Ulster man Doak and Munster playmaker Crowley are the halfback pairing in an exciting young Emerging Ireland team to face the Griquas in Bloemfontein tomorrow [KO 12.45pm Irish time, live stream on Irishrugby.ie].

20-year-old scrum-half Doak had an impressive breakthrough with Ulster’s senior side last season, starting 13 games. He is regarded as a player with the potential to break into Ireland’s World Cup plans for next year.

22-year-old out-half Crowley showed his potential for the Ireland U20 side back in 2020 but has struggled for game time with Munster since, accumulating four senior starts so far. 

Doak and Crowley are an exciting pairing on paper and the Irish coaches hope they can deliver a decisive showing against the Griquas. 

“Our forwards at times are going to need a break so our management in that middle area of the pitch is going to be important,” said Ireland assistant coach John Fogarty.

“Clean and quick in the exit, we don’t want to be stuck in an arm wrestle but they will certainly stress our breakdown on exits so how we set up and how clean we exit, how we don’t overplay.

“When we get our opportunities, nice and decisive actions. The other thing is that we don’t want to see them too excited, we want to see them nice and calm.

“Stay in the plan and be able to lead and give some direction as well when the forwards need it. They have been very good during the week and that communication piece has been excellent.”

max-deegan Max Deegan captains the Irish side. Source: Evan Treacy/INPHO

Leinster’s Max Deegan captains the team from number eight and is one of three players in the team who have already been capped by Ireland at senior level. Fullback Shane Daly and wing Robert Baloucoune are the other two.

Deegan is part of a small leadership group in the Emerging Ireland squad and it’s expected that there will be different captains for the other two games against the Pumas and Cheetahs.

Scott Penny, Joe McCarthy, Crowley, Doak, and Cian Prendergast are the other players in the leadership group.

“From talking to the provinces, the coaches would have identified some leaders within the group,” explained Fogarty.

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“Their job throughout the week is to have a feel for the wider group. Some of the messaging from the coaches will go through that group. That group will try and help the rest of the group prepare well, make sure there is clarity in the different areas of the game. On the pitch, they will have their own areas where they will lead.”

The Irish pack looks very mobile, dynamic, and skillful, so Fogarty and co. hope to see them fit comfortably into the style that has made Ireland so successful at Test level in recent times.

“We want to be punchy as a pack,” said Fogarty. “We certainly want to be mobile but we want to show some physicality as well so there are going to be times we need to be physical.

“We worked on a bit of that during the week. Our body height and our speed to things has been very good so they are areas we will be looking at tomorrow.”

The Griquas, who play in the Currie Cup, are missing some of their key players for tomorrow’s clash and have named a new-look team to face Emerging Ireland.

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Murray Kinsella

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