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Dublin: 14 °C Thursday 15 November, 2018

Kilcoyne out of France clash but Ireland enjoying the sun in Spain

Ireland are focusing on the challenge of a trip to France on 3 February.

Murray Kinsella reports from London

IRELAND DIDN’T EXACTLY look to publicise their trip to Spain this week, but the warm weather training camp makes perfect sense.

For Joe Schmidt, it means an opportunity to set out the stall to his 36 players in good weather conditions.

Joe Schmidt Joe Schmidt was in London today. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

For those players, it’s a chance to get out of Ireland for a little refresher after a demanding schedule around the turn of the year.

“Part of it was that the players felt it would be a good idea and I felt it was a good idea as well,” said Schmidt today in London, having flown from Spain to attend the the Six Nations launch along with Ireland captain Rory Best.

“We knew this season was going to be particularly tough with two European games, three derbies, then two more European games, so it’s been seven tough weeks.

“The first thing is to regenerate a bit and then really roll our sleeves up. It means we get into our own little bubble and it also means the conditions we train in are consistent, so we can get a volume of work down.

“In the past, we’ve occasionally had really heavy frosts that have caused the ground to be a little bit hard to train on, or we’ve had deluges of rain. It’s hard to do organisational work.

“You might have to play in that, so you can train in that for sure, but just to try and get everyone organised again, it’s good to be able to do it in consistent and relatively fine conditions.”

Showing up in London today meant a long trip back to Oliva Nova – the resort in southern Spain where Ireland have set up camp until Friday – for Schmidt and Best, but they had to fulfil their obligations as part of the Six Nations.

One man who didn’t travel to Spain at all this week was Munster loosehead Dave Kilcoyne, who injured his knee during the province’s win over Castres on Sunday.

Dave Kilcoyne 21/1/2018 Kilcoyne will miss the France clash. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Kilcoyne had been in superb form and was in with a fine shot of featuring against France in Paris on 3 February, but his place in the training camp was taken by his provincial team-mate James Cronin.

And Schmidt has now ruled Kilcoyne out of the tournament opener.

“Dave won’t make the first match,” said Schmidt. “He may come into contention for the second match [against Italy], I think. He would be a real outside chance for the first game, but he’d be a potential chance for the second game.”

There was a more positive update on Ulster wing Jacob Stockdale, who suffered a dead leg in his province’s defeat to Wasps last weekend. The 21-year-old should feature in full training at Oliva Nova before the end of the week.

“Jacob should be right to train by the end of this week and, therefore, would be in the mix for France,” said Schmidt.

Ireland’s analysis in Spain this week is focused on the challenge of the French, who have a new head coach in Jacques Brunel, as well as a number of new players who Schmidt says he rates.

“They’re a real threat,” said the Ireland boss. “I know Jacques, I’ve coached against Jacques before – he was coaching Perpignan when I was at Clermont and he beat us in the Top 14 final.

“I know [assistant coach] Julien Bonnaire very well, I coached him for three years and his lineout acumen is second to none. So they’ve got some really quality operators. How quickly can they gel? That’s the challenge.

Jacques Brunel Brunel is the new France boss. Source: Morgan Treacy/INPHO

“I’m not sure how much homework people have been doing on some of the new selections they’ve made, but I’m impressed when a kid who’s 19, like Jalibert, is doing what he’s doing. I think he’s a real threat.

“Some of the players they’re bringing through are going to flourish and I just hope it’s rounds two, three, four and five that that happens.”

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Murray Kinsella

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