independent

Thursday 17 April 2014

Chasing the result won't help Ireland's cause, insists Foley

THIS is the most important November game Anthony Foley has ever been involved in – as a player or coach.

But while acknowledging the huge task facing the Ireland players, the freshly appointed defence coach is at pains to insist they must not become hostages to fortune and put chasing the result above all else.

"If you start worrying about results, you'll miss what's in front of you," said Foley (pictured below). "I think we've concentrated on how to get a performance that revolves around training, and making sure our processes are in place, our scrum, our line-out, our attack, defence, our kick-chase, our kick-receipt, all the things that are very relevant to the game.

"We all know what the consequences of the weekend are, but the most important thing is we make sure we get our processes in place and make sure we get our preparation right, and if we get that right, the performance should lead on to a result."

From his time as a player, former Munster and Ireland No 8 Foley knows that despite the huge change in the playing roster of both teams over the years, this game is likely to be one of the most physical contests any of the new Irish internationals will experience.

That said, the experience the Ireland players have gleaned from their exploits in the Heineken Cup will have prepared them for what is likely to be unleashed on Saturday.

"When you play in France, it's pretty similar. You play French sides and they're big men, they will hit you and you will get hurt, and you need a certain degree of toughness about you," said Foley.

"These guys wouldn't be in the Irish squad if they hadn't had that level of toughness that they show for their provinces.

"So we're pretty confident that we can handle the physical side of the game. I think we'd have shown that against South Africa. For long periods, we matched them and we were a bit on top of them at stages as well, so it's just about making sure we can get back into that place again.

"It's a dark lonely place and it's hard to get in there, but our preparation this week has been good and we'll get 15 players out on the pitch that are willing to play for their country and willing to do what's necessary."

The step up in intensity in the Ireland camp this week has been evident and the added bite in training is something the coaching staff has been actively encouraging.

"You don't try and rein that side of things in. You enjoy it. We've a lot of good players here, and a lot of good players really wanting to have a go and make a career, make a name for themselves in international rugby.

"Anytime you're involved in a team coming into a crunch encounter, everybody wants to be in the starting XV, everybody wants to dominate and nobody wants to be seen to be dominated in a physical encounter."

Foley said he believed the Fiji result helped the battle for places in the squad.

"A lot of guys have genuine cases and so it's everybody out in training trying to show their best wares. Guys are turning up and willing to put their bodies out there in training.

"There isn't much being held back in training and there isn't much being held back in preparation. Everybody is chomping at each other, everybody is pushing each other hard.

"That's good, it's always good to have a relatively healthy squad at this stage for the last game in this campaign and there are lot of guys who have grown into the squad in the last month.

"I don't know whether you see it from the outside but it's a very enjoyable camp to be involved in, a lot of good humour in it, a lot of camaraderie and there's a good feeling within the squad."

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