wet and windy

'We feel we're ready for Storm Ciara and Wales' - Ireland expect to improve

Andy Farrell’s pack will be looking to rebound at scrum time against the Welsh.

THE WEATHER FORECAST suggests that tomorrow’s clash between Ireland and Wales could be similar to last March’s meeting in Cardiff in at least one way.

Andy Farrell and his coaches will be hoping there is no similarity to the shambolic performance or 25-7 defeat that Ireland delivered in 2019, however.

Heavy rain and strong winds are expected in Dublin tomorrow, though there are some predictions that those conditions won’t hit until the second half of the game, which kicks off at 2.15pm at the Aviva Stadium.

andy-farrell-with-conor-murray Dan Sheridan / INPHO Andy Farrell speaks to Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Ireland, of course, have been preparing for the worst-case scenario in terms of the weather. While Farrell’s side and Wales both have hopes of progressing their attacking games this year by playing with more width, tomorrow may not be the ideal day for it.

“We’ve put some scenarios in during the week so that we are adaptable tomorrow. So we will see what the scenario is when we arrive,” said assistant coach John Fogarty after today’s captain’s run.

“The team leaders and Faz will make some decisions around how we start the game and so on. But we have had a good week and we feel we’re ready for Storm Ciara and Wales.

“I don’t think either team will want to see a storm come in and take away from the occasion. We’ll see what arrives tomorrow and hopefully it won’t be Storm Ciara.”

With another week of training under their belts after last weekend’s scrappy and shaky victory over Scotland, Ireland are expecting to deliver a much more convincing performance.

“We had a number of weeks to prep for Scotland, we have another week in us now,” said Fogarty today. “There’s plenty more to come. There have been huge positives out of last week, the win has really been important.

“As a coaching group, as a whole group, we’re unbelievably excited about where we can go with the team, but we’ll do it step by step and tomorrow is another step for us. It’s important that we take it, we’re looking forward to it.”

a-view-of-training Dan Sheridan / INPHO It was dry at the Aviva Stadium for Ireland's captain's run. Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

Scrum specialist Fogarty led Ireland’s review into their two penalty concessions at that scrum time last weekend, with loosehead prop Cian Healy pinged twice by referee Mathieu Raynal.

Fogarty said Ireland and Healy have examined the technical details in recent days, following Healy’s frustrations with Raynal: “The Scots were coming down on top of head, so he had to move his head which would open up a joint.”

Wales had their own scrum issues last weekend in a 42-0 win over Italy, conceding three penalties.

New head coach Wayne Pivac has said that the Welsh have since been in touch with World Rugby’s head of referees, Alain Rolland, seeking clarification on those decisions.

Ireland’s Fogarty said he’s happy that an experienced match official, Frenchman Romain Poite, is in charge of tomorrow’s contest.  

“I thought it was a difficult first day for them as well,” said Fogarty of the Wales scrum. “There was a lot of wait at the bind stage.

“We are lucky that we have got Romain Poite. He is a good ref and he manages the situation really well. Wales have been talking about making sure they are nice and clean for the referee, so we would be much the same. We want to have a good game. We want to create moments for our home crowd to get into. We don’t want to slow the game down.”

john-fogarty Billy Stickland / INPHO Ireland's John Fogarty at today's session. Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

Those “moments” are something that Ireland have focused on this week, as they aim to ensure the Aviva Stadium crowd can get behind a more dominant and physically aggressive showing.

“We’ve got to have big moments in the game and get the crowd up for it,” said hooker Rob Herring.

“The way the game started last week, Scotland were probably in the ascendency for the first five or six minutes, so hopefully we can flip that around this week and get the atmosphere going.

“I think that’s been a trademark of the Irish team over the last few years, to be physically dominant. I thought last week we had it in parts, we probably weren’t as consistent as we usually are in that aspect of the game.

“We know we’re going to have to step that up a little bit this week and find that consistency, just so we don’t let teams off the hook and just keep putting pressure on in terms of dominance.”

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