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Dublin: 6°C Saturday 10 April 2021

Irish camp talk up US after first workout in New Jersey

The sides face off on Saturday night.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby.
Forwards coach Simon Easterby.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

THE IRISH TEAM had their first workout in New Jersey this morning as they returned to the USA for the first time since that historic 40-29 win over the All Blacks in November.

But it is a considerably different Irish squad which arrived in America on Monday afternoon to grey skies and humid conditions.

It’s to remain smoggy for the week with rain as an Ireland squad with eight uncapped players on board prepare for Saturday’s clash with the USA Eagles in the Red Bull Arena in Harristown.

The Irish team are staying on the banks of the Hudson River, just across from the World Trade Centre and today had their first workout on a college soccer pitch in nearby Hoboken.

There were no late changes to the squad with Ulster’s Sean Rediy, drafted in to replace the injured Tommy O’Donnell, linking up with them when they arrive in Japan next Monday, bringing the playing roster back up to its original 31.

Forwards coach Simon Easterby said they had settled in well to their team base and was looking forward to Saturday’s clash when they will hope to extend their winning run against the Eagles to nine games.

But with former All Black John Mitchell set to step down as USA coach in a few weeks to move to the Blue Bulls in Pretoria, and with the Eagles having two key World Cup qualifiers coming up against Canada, Easterby knows they will have a battle on their hands on Saturday.

“They play Canada after us. They will be desperate to put in a good performance to try and springboard their qualification into the two Canadian games.

“They have plenty of experience as well. Obviously we are well aware of AJ MacGinty at 10 and his time at Connacht and his time now at Sale. But Nate Augspurger his half-back partner at nine, he’s electric he can play on the wing as well and he’s a real threat. They have a lot of Sevens experience in the squad as well.

“They are a real threat if we give them those opportunities. Mike Te’o, Madison Hughes, both real quality individuals with ball in hand. Actually, as a forward pack under John Mitchell, they’ve developed a really strong driving game. They have a couple of front rowers who are playing in the Aviva Premiership at the moment.

“From they have come from, they have certainly got much more depth. They are a lot stronger than they were a few years ago and a real test for us,” said Easterby.

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