More of the same – but more attacking required.
Against Japan, I’d like to more of the same to what we saw in the Scotland game. It’d be nice to see a bit more attacking with the ball in hand and more offloading in the tackle. But Ireland have gone well so far and it’s hard to complain.
I want to see Ireland impose their physical dominance on Japan and test out their attacking combinations.
I’m presuming Ireland will win the match, so the manner of the victory will be important going into the remainder of the tournament. They’ll need to test themselves ahead of the tougher games.
Changes rung. Places are on the line.
You’d love Johnny Sexton to be playing and to get the fitness he’ll need come quarter-final time. But it’s a big game for Jack Carty and, off the bench, Joey Carbery. Jack has been good and he has the best number nine in the world inside him, so I don’t think he’ll go too far wrong. He’ll be put in a position to have a good game – he just needs to pass really well and kick really well and he’ll be fine!
Rob Kearney and Keith Earls could be under a little bit of pressure for their places after Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway’s displays against Scotland. Andrew in particular has been excellent lately.
The competition is high and if anyone in your position has a good performance you may be under the pump a bit – simply because the coaches will presumably pick based on form. If they’re doing that, there’s no reason for Jordan and Andrew not to be upset if they don’t play.
So Kearney and Earls will need to show well in Shizuoka to put their hands up for selection in the bigger fixtures.
Japan’s chat may set them up for a hiding
Players wouldn’t be paying any attention to what’s being said by opponents in the media – or at least they certainly won’t be taking it to heart. It’s probably more likely that the coaches’ egos will take a bit of dent.
The players couldn’t care less.
I saw one of the Japanese players say that he fancies them to win by 10 or 12 points, but as an Irish player you just laugh at that. Japan have absolutely no right to think that they’re going to go out and hammer Ireland.
If anything that kind of thing will add a bit more fire in the bellies for the Irish players going out on Saturday. Knowing that their opponent is very confident will make them want to put Japan in their place.
It doesn’t really bode well for Japan if they’re taking the arrogant route. A few of the comments they’ve been making will probably earn them a 40-point hiding.