Full-strength Ireland ready for Wallabies
Out-of-form Ireland admit they have their “backs to the wall” at the Rugby World Cup but they intend to come out fighting and believe they have the quality to shock next-up opponents Australia.
Team manager Paul McNaughton said on Monday the Irish tend to play at their best when under pressure; an unconvincing opening win against minnows the United States followed a run of four straight defeats.
McNaughton added that Ireland would be virtually at full strength for Saturday’s clash against the Tri Nations champions, who overcame a slow start to destroy Italy 32-6 in their first match.
“We always seem to bring our best out when our backs are against the wall,” McNaughton said.
“It’s only five or six weeks ago when Australia were beaten by Samoa and everyone was writing Australia off.
“And a couple of good wins and winning the Tri Nations has put them clearly up there as favourites.”
Ireland stuttered to a 22-10 win in wet and windy conditions in New Plymouth on Sunday but reported no injury problems apart from prop Tony Buckley, who was undergoing a shoulder scan.
But Ireland take heart from a strong World Cup record against the Wallabies after losing out by just one point 19-18 in the 1991 quarter-finals and being edged out 17-16 in a pool game in 2003.
Ireland also went down 22-15 to Australia in Brisbane last year and in 2009, they held the Wallabies 20-20 in Dublin.
“Underdogs is not a position or a name that we go looking for but we’re clearly the underdogs based on the respective records in the last three or four games,” McNaughton said.
“But that doesn’t really worry us too much. There’s strong belief in the squad that if we get all of our parts of our game, that we know we can get up there.”
“They’ve played against Australia before, they know the Australians well and there’s a confidence that on our day, when we play well and when all cylinders are running smoothly we can beat them,” he added.
“If all the key parts of our game are as strong as they can be, we certainly have the ability and the team to beat Australia.”
McNaughton refused to blame Sunday’s soaking rain, which made the ball “like a bar of soap”, for Ireland’s errors, which included gifting the United States an intercept try in the last play of the game.
“The guys are confident that if all of our cylinders are going, we can match Australia but we just have to get there,” he said.
“We’ve got a week to improve on the things that we were disappointed with on Sunday.”© AAP 2013
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