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Dublin: 11°C Saturday 8 May 2021
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'Great day for the family,' but whirlwind tour leaves little time for Scannell brothers to celebrate

Staving off jet-lag is the first job for Joe Schmidt’s squad after arriving in Japan yesterday.

John Fallon reports from Tokyo

NIALL SCANNELL SAYS there hasn’t yet been time to fully appreciate that younger brother Rory has also been capped for Ireland, such has been the amount of travel since Saturday’s win over the USA.

Rory’s introduction at the interval in the 55-19 win over the USA and his subsequent kicking of two conversions has resulted in the Scannells joining a small band of brothers who have scored in the same game for Ireland.

Hooker Niall had already scored his first international try by the time his younger brother was introduced in New Jersey, and while their father and sister made it to the game, there hasn’t been time for celebrations.

The Irish team landed in Tokyo in two groups yesterday after the long flight over the Arctic on Sunday night and they have begun acclimatisin; adjusting to the wet and humid conditions which are set to prevail through Saturday’s opening test against Japan at the Ecopa Stadium 200 kilometres away in Shizuoka.

Scannell, who won the first of his five caps against Italy in February, knows that Rory’s debut was a milestone on Saturday for the Cork and Munster duo.

My father and sister were over, it was great to have them there. Obviously, it was a huge day for Rory, especially to get a full half. It was brilliant that he had an impact on the game, which was brilliant. Your first cap you want it to be a significant bit of game time. He’s been banging on the door so it was brilliant to see him get the cap. Great day for the family. He’ll be looking to kick on if he gets his chance this week.”

The 25-year old has had to bide his time for international honours with the likes of Rory Best and Sean Cronin ahead of him in the picking order, but he made the most of his chance when he got it in the Six Nations earlier this year.

Niall Scannell Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I suppose it all happened very quickly cos I wasn’t involved in November and then Sean Cronin got injured and before I knew it I was on the bench in the Six Nations and then got a start. So it all happened very quickly but certainly I’d see myself as very inexperienced at this level and have a lot to prove to Joe and the other coaches.

“Where I am is brilliant and it’s been a good season for me but I have a long way to go in that Rory Best is so established and is a big leader for us. I have to use these opportunities and that’s probably why I’m taking this tour so seriously. It’s an opportunity to stake a claim for me and I certainly don’t want to let it go to waste.”

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Scannell though, knows Japan will offer a searching test in these conditions and that the inexperienced tourists are going to need to dig deep to extend Ireland’s perfect six-game record against them.


Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

“We had a look at them as soon as we got in last night cos obviously we lost a lot of time travelling and we knew the Japanese would be working hard. So, we got right on task and turned the page on the US game and started focusing on Saturday. It’s going to be a huge test.

“They’ll bring a dominant scrum, a massively contested area, and so will the line-outs. That’s what we’ve focused on primarily since landing here. They really acquitted themselves very well there against Romania,” added the Dolphin clubman.

“I’m a bit jet-lagged but everyone is in the same boat. Hopefully we’ll turn the page on Wednesday and we’ll be back on local time and we can kick on – obviously, we have limited training time with the travel and stuff so we need to be really sharp around what we do on Thursday. It certainly won’t be an excuse going into a big test game like this.”

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In pics: Ireland get out of the Tokyo heat with a pool session

About the author:

John Fallon

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