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Flavin: Ireland need all guns blazing in war of attrition

Ireland will hope for a fast start against Samoa tomorrow, but some aspects may need time to click.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

IRELAND WILL WIN against Samoa tomorrow, just don’t expect it to be pretty.

The visiting Pacific Islanders may well be under strength, but they will still bring enormous physicality, high levels of skill and the more structured gameplan that has brought so much success their way in recent years.

They have strength in depth too, particularly at tight-head where they have Logovi’i Mulipola and James Johnston to come in for Census Johnston. I’m sure there are a lot of coaches who wouldn’t mind having those three tight-heads at their disposal.

Ireland have selected some big guns on the bench, but I don’t expect the players who do start to hold any artillery back. The coaching team will want a fast start and I think that’s why they’ve left anybody with a slight question mark over them out of the side.

In that regard, Jonathan Sexton is the one big name who hasn’t made the squad; perhaps the prospect of heavy Samoan hitting on a hip concern forced Joe Schmidt’s hand. Sexton’s opportunity to rest means a big opportunity is presented to Paddy Jackson.

With Fergus McFadden, Gordon D’Arcy and Brian O’Driscoll in the back line it would have been easy for Joe Schmidt to pick Ian Madigan, but he just hasn’t been getting enough game time with Leinster. Jackson is an excellent player and he’s more game ready. He deserves a run and now it’s up to him to step up.

Samoa have guys like Ofisa Treviranus who’ll be looking to get a hold of Jackson and I’m sure they’ll be looking to bring Pisi inside too, but Paddy will be used to people running at him. As I found out myself, against some Samoans it’s just a case of grabbing them around the legs and hanging on until they fall down.

O’Driscoll sat out training today, but if Les Kiss says it’s nothing to worry about then we should see him back in full swing by 6pm Saturday. It has been a long lay-off for him with just the one appearance this season, but he’s got quite a bit of big match experience  in the bank to call upon. I don’t think you’ll notice a difference in his performance. He’s one of the best players in the world, I’m sure he’ll be comfortable enough to go straight back in.

Try-fest?

We’ll need that experience and quality too. Schmidt may be in the job for months now but his first game still presents problems. There has to be a bedding in period. Joe’s got his own ideas of how he wants to play. I’m sure they’ve been working extremely hard over the last few weeks, but not everything will click.

I can’t imagine anyone talking about 10 tries or anything like that. What will please Ireland fans most is if they transfer what they’ve been working on in training to a game situation.

To do that, Ireland will have to look to their tight five to set a platform. The Samoans definitely have the weight for a good scrum, Ireland need to get that unit working together to come out on top.

Jack McGrath deserves his start and if Devin Toner and Mike McCarthy can give everything behind him, Rory Best and Mike Ross, then the scrum can be a real weapon.

In pics: Captain’s Run for Ireland and Samoa as BOD watches on

Here’s all the international rugby you have to choose from tomorrow

About the author:

Adrian Flavin  / Former Connacht hooker

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