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'Big expectation on Ireland to put us away': Canada coach Anscombe out to spoil the homecoming

The former Ulster boss is ready to face a more confident and mature Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall than he left behind.

Image: Joe Giddens

FORMER ULSTER COACH Mark Anscombe is hoping to spoil Ireland’s homecoming ‘party’ when his Canada side take on the hosts at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow.

Ireland moved up to fifth place in the World Rugby rankings after last weekend’s historic win over New Zealand in Chicago, a match many supporters complained they were not able to see live owing to a variety of location and broadcast factors.

Though Joe Schmidt has named an all new starting line-up for the encounter with 18th-ranked Canada, the Saturday night fixture should see the celebratory mood continue.

“It’s a great stadium when it’s full. The boys don’t get to play in stadia like that very often so it will be a great occasion,” Anscombe said after naming his starting line-up for the opening Test of his November tour last night.

Irish rugby will be on a high after their win on the weekend, so the public will come along, there will be a big expectation on them to put us away.

“We’ve got to spoil their day and show them what we’re capable of doing.”

For Anscombe, spoiling the day involves instilling belief in his squad. And his message to his players is similar to the one delivered by Rory Best before Ireland met and beat New Zealand: don’t try to hold on, keep attacking.


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“We’ve got to be confident in ourselves and the way we want to play rugby.

“We can’t afford to just go in there and hope to keep it close, we’ve got to believe in our game and go out and perform to our ability then we can do well.”

He adds:  ”If we do that (go wide before ‘earning the right’) early on, they’ve got the defensive power to cut us down – they’ll put pressure on and limit the opportunities for the guys out wide.

“We’ve got to do the work up front, get the quality of ball, get them going backwards and then get the likes of (Taylor) Paris and (DTH) Van der Merwe into the game.

“If we can do that, we can ask some questions of them.”

Though Ireland’s starting line-up is much-changed, the presence of Paddy Jackson and Luke Marshall in the 10-12 axis arguably make the backline more familiar to Anscombe than Schmidt’s first choice.

Paddy Jackson and Mark Anscombe Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Having seen both men perform during the summer tour to South Africa, the Kiwi is also fully aware that the men have changed since his time in charge of Ulster.

“They’ve grown now, they’re a bit older and have a bit more confidence in themselves and what their capabilities are. A year or two ago they’d be getting the odd game for Ireland and maybe didn’t feel as if the position was theirs by right.

“Over the last few years they’ve clearly done that and now they feel part of it. That brings confidence and it allows them express themselves and do a job.

Paddy showed over the summer that he’s one that’s going to start moving on and put Johnny Sexton under pressure for his starting spot.”

“We’ve got to stick to our game, but also look at playing to our strengths. That’s what we’ve really been focusing on. We’re aware of their strike power across the park, but ultimately it’s about what we need do.”

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Sean Farrell

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