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'I feel sorry for the players like Parisse and Ghiraldini' - Irish sympathy for Italy

Keith Earls and CJ Stander also underlined that they’re focused on their own jobs against Samoa.

IRELAND HAVE THEIR own clear focus tomorrow but it’s been impossible to ignore events elsewhere at this World Cup.

A super typhoon, cancelled games, threats of legal action, Japan’s coach reacting to his perception of disrespect to the Brave Blossoms, and more – it certainly hasn’t been a quiet 48 hours at the tournament.

Indeed, Wales’ win over Fiji on Wednesday almost feels like it happened weeks ago at this point, meaning the return of at least some rugby this weekend will be welcome.

a-view-of-training Ireland at their captain's run in Fukuoka today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The Irish players have done their best to concentrate on their own job, but they do have sympathy for their counterparts affected by the cancellations, with Italy’s Sergio Parisse having blasted World Rugby for not having a contingency plan in place after Italy’s scheduled meeting with New Zealand was called off.

“I sympathise with him as a player and a person but it’s not up to me to give details about how he’s feeling,” said Keith Earls after Ireland’s captain’s run today.

“We’ve been concentrating on ourselves. You can’t but feel sorry that he doesn’t get to go out in that game. I’m not going to get into the politics of that.

“I feel sorry for the players like Parisse and [Leonardo] Ghiraldini who were playing their last World Cup game and they don’t get to do it against New Zealand, but I personally just concentrate on our game.”

CJ Stander was sitting alongside Earls after Ireland had tested out the very poor pitch at Fukuoka Hakatanomori Stadium, and the Munster man also shared his sympathy with the Italians.

“Look, I think it’s tough, especially when you work hard,” said Stander. “But there’s safety around people and what needs to be done. If I had been in that situation, personally, it would have been tough as well.

“Just thinking about some of the lads’ families coming over, flying over and being safe. What needs to be done is done and we’re lucky enough that our game is going ahead.

“All we can do is concentrate on Samoa now and be ready for the game tomorrow because it’s going to be a big challenge and it’s a game we need to shape up for.”

keith-earls-with-andy-farrell Keith Earls with Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Ireland know that a bonus-point win in Fukuoka will guarantee them a quarter-final regardless of what happens, or perhaps doesn’t happen, in Yokohama between Japan and Scotland in the final Pool A fixture on Sunday.

That game remains in doubt, with World Rugby hoping that Typhoon Hagibis passes through Yokohama without doing enough damage to force the game to be cancelled on Sunday morning, when the governing body will make their final decision.

Ireland assistant coach Greg Feek has also been coaching in Japan with the NEC Green Rockets since last year, meaning he has a good understanding of the sometimes volatile climate here. 

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Feek said he had some sympathy for World Rugby, even if several of the coaching staff of World Cup teams had highlighted ‘what if’ scenarios before the World Cup began.

“The size of the typhoon and everything is unfortunate, you can’t control these things,” said Feek. “This could have happened anywhere… not Ireland, but freak storms or flooding or whatever, in this day and age you just have to take it for what it is.

“All our guys know players in other teams who have been affected. Fortunately, our game is still going ahead. There are going to be some unknowns about the weather and there are relative changes every few hours.

“You might wake up tomorrow and it will be something different. I think we need to be as positive as we can. That’s what we’re trying to do as players and as coaches – to try and be positive and supportive and know that no matter what decision has been made, it won’t have been easy.

“It’s hard enough making selections for a team, let alone calling a game of rugby off, let alone a game in the World Cup.”

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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