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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 17 October, 2019
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Fun in the sun for Ireland as Schmidt puts squad through high-tempo open session

The weather matched the mood at the Aviva Stadium this morning as Ireland’s focus turns to Wales.

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium 

CONDITIONS COULDN’T HAVE been in greater contrast to a wet and windy Saturday evening, but it’s not in Ireland’s DNA to bask in the glory of victory as they quickly returned to work and refocused the minds.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt's players were given a useful run out at an open session this morning. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The weekend’s attritional and hard-fought win over France here certainly took its toll on the bodies, although Rob Kearney was the only one to emerge with anything other than the usual bumps and bruises.

Kearney was among a number of players, including Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Andrew Trimble and Conor Murray, who sat out this morning’s open training session, with bright weather and a healthy crowd lending itself to a pleasant atmosphere.

But with the squad now heading off in different directions for some downtime this week, there was an obvious intensity to proceedings with Nigel Carolan’s U20s providing the opposition during a useful, and high-tempo, 30-minute workout.

“It was quite pleasing having that session there, the boys getting into it and worked pretty hard,” Greg Feek said afterwards.

“There was definitely tiredness, soreness and the usual stuff but against the French you kind of anticipate that.”

The Irish scrum coach also gave an update on Kearney’s fitness, after the fullback limped out of Saturday’s 19-9 win over Les Blues.

Rob Kearney poses for a photo with a fan Kearney sat out training with a groin problem. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“Rob had a bit of a groin [problem], he’s going to get a scan and we’ll see how that goes but apart from that we actually came through pretty well. The boys will regenerate this week and it’s well deserved so too.

“He will get the scan and then there will be a process from there. Hats off to our medical staff. They’ve done an extremely good job. When you hear about these things sometimes it can be all doom and gloom but these guys get the guys back really, really well and it is a massive confidence we have.

“We’ll just see how Rob goes and he’ll follow exactly what they put in place and see what happens from there.”

Should the Leinster man be ruled out of the next Six Nations assignment, against Wales in Cardiff on 10 March, the fit again Jared Payne is likely to come back into Schmidt’s plans after making his comeback for Ulster over the weekend.

A cameo in the northern province’s win over Zebre yesterday was the centre’s first appearance since November and Feek admitted the Irish management will keep a close eye on his progress this week, with Ulster due to host Treviso on Friday.

“The guys that have battled for us the last few weeks certainly have to be rewarded,” he said.

“Jared has obviously got a huge amount of respect from the coaching staff and players a

Fun in the sun for Ireland as Schmidt puts squad through high-tempo open session
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  • Donnacha Ryan and Simon Zebo share a joke before training.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • The squad took time afterwards to meet fans.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • Johnny Sexton was among those training.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • Schmidt keeping an eye on proceedings.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • Fun in the sun for Heaslip and Jackson.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • A young fan enjoying the day.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • A large crowd occupied the lower tier in the West Stand.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • Simon Zebo with fans.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
  • Jamie Heaslip takes a deserved break.

    Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“I know the players have a lot of respect for him as well so it’s our duty to see how he’s going and other games at the weekend as well, there’s a few other players that aren’t in the mix at the moment who are playing well for their provinces which is great.”

The players will attend a sponsor’s lunch in Dublin this afternoon before going their respective ways to recharge the batteries ahead of returning to camp at Carton House at some point on Saturday.

“In the back of our minds we’ll be thinking about Wales as well because they’ll be hurting after the loss at the weekend and we know what’s coming,” Feek added about the next few days.

“Our first focus is getting ready for that so I think it’s important physically we’re there but also mentally we don’t switch off too much. We’ll obviously get a bit of a break from that but the boys will come back into it.

“We’ve just got to keep our head down and control what we can control and make sure we go into the Wales game fully focused on getting the W [win] and putting in a performance which will hopefully get that. That’s always our focus.”

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Ryan Bailey

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