Three days’ rest and recuperation now and then it’s the French, writes Brendan O’Brien.
It’s not the most encouraging of prospects for Tom Tierney’s Ireland side. Up to now, the hosts have spluttered their way to decidedly unimpressive wins over Australia and Japan in Pool C or this Rugby World Cup.
France have put the same foe to the sword without so much as breaking sweat.
The maths is simple: Win next Thursday and Ireland advance through to the semi-finals when the tournament moves up the road to Belfast. Lose and they are relegated to the play-offs for the minor placings.
“The French are going to be excellent,” said the Ireland coach. “They showed against the Japanese that when they are allowed play they are going to be very tough. We are still in the game and the tournament. We’re not down by any means yet.
“We’ll be firing on all cylinders and we will give it everything. We are going to be underdogs. We are not going to be expected to win by anyone. Not by yourselves (in the media), not by anyone, which is fine.”
Three days: What can you do with that? Not much, is the reality. The good news is that Tierney isn’t reporting any injury worries but he has plenty more to occupy himself between now and Thursday.
Scrum, lineout, handling, passing, discipline … it’s a long list although Ireland have shown heart in turning their fortunes around in the closing quarter in both of their games of this competition, mostly by adopting an up-the-jumper approach.
“They are basics and they are the core skills of the game,” the coach said of the mounting errors. “We try to minimise those mistakes as much as possible, albeit you are going to be under severe pressure from the opposition. That is a key thing.
“We won’t shy away from the fact our handling errors were high again.”
This story first appeared in the Irish Examiner.