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'It certainly wasn't anything I'd prepared for' - Niall Scannell on playing flanker on World Cup bow

The Munster man is determined to make the most of his opportunity on the big stage this week.

Niall Scannell: ready for Bears challenge.
Niall Scannell: ready for Bears challenge.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

NIALL SCANNELL AIMS to give a good account of himself on Thursday against Russia, when Ireland will look to get their Rugby World Cup back on track.

And the Corkman, named in an all-Munster front row by Joe Schmidt this morning, will get to do it in his preferred position. 

Scannell was thrust into the fray as a makeshift flanker in his tournament debut against Scotland. 

“I got a text off Tommy O’Donnell at home who was my room-mate in Carlton House, saying that after all he’s been through I came on in the World Cup at seven and he was left at home!” Scannell said at this morning’s press conference. 

“It certainly wasn’t anything I’d prepared for but it’s just something that happened, with Pete [O'Mahony] coming off early I had to stick in there and do it.

“I’m not sure how well I went, it was a new experience for me anyway, but it’s not something I’d be looking to again any time soon.”

The game against the Russians in Kobe is an opportunity for the 27-year-old to push himself into the reckoning for starting places later in the tournament. 

“It’s huge,” he agrees, “I was obviously disappointed not to be involved last Saturday.

“I want to put my best foot forward, but that comes through accuracy and building into the game. It’s not about going out there and trying to get a man-of-the-match performance, in difficult conditions, in the first 20 minutes.


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“It’s about building, sticking to the gameplan and fitting in as we do as we get through our gameplan. If the fellas who have been given a chance then that’s the best way of putting our hands up for Joe for selection as the tournament progresses.”

niall-scannell-and-peter-omahony Niall Scannell and Peter O'Mahony at training earlier. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Johnny Sexton has been named as captain of the side, a first for the hugely experienced Leinster out half. 

“Johnny’s an unbelievably experienced player,” says Scannell, “he’s captained Leinster and to be honest the way there’s a leadership group among the squad, already fairly established that share that work in the week, so from our point of view Johnny would regularly speak before and after sessions, before a game.

“So from a team point-of-view, Johnny is a huge leader for us and always has been.

“It’s great for him as a personal accolade to be captain, but I think his usual leadership qualities will be what he brings to it. We’ve seen time and time again, so I think it won’t be a huge change for us as a team.”


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