GEORGIA’S TEAM MAY not be filled with household names, but Ireland have been preparing to face ‘the Lelos’ with exactly the same dilligence as they did for their win over South Africa last weekend.
Such is life under Joe Schmidt.
Regardless of the opposition, Ireland’s players are expected to be as well-prepared as if they were taking on New Zealand each weekend. Constant improvement is the only acceptable goal in Schmidt’s world.
“Definitely, that is one of the things Joe has really pushed on us,” says second row Mike McCarthy.
“We have plenty to work on up front from the South Africa game, which Joe has been telling us all week.”
The negatives from last weekend’s win certainly were based around the set-piece, and although Ireland have retained only Mike Ross from last weekend’s pack, forwards coach Simon Easterby and Schmidt have been demanding better this time around.
O’Connell has been busy at Carton House this week. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Georgia’s backline is relatively weak, but their starting pack includes several Top 14-contracted powerhouses and will again test Ireland’s strength in the tight.
“We’re certainly expecting a forwards battle,” says McCarthy. “They’re big, they’re physical, they’re very strong and they’re going to look to take us on up front. We are under no illusions about how big a task it is going to be up front.”
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With no Paul O’Connell to run the line-out tomorrow, Munster’s Dave Foley will take over the calling of that set-piece on his debut, while McCarthy will do his best to make the 26-year-old’s entry into international rugby as smooth as possible.