independent

Thursday 24 April 2014

Ireland must take chances against new breed of Puma

Rachel Wyse

"For many years there was an acceptance of valiant defeats, going well for 60 minutes and succumbing to better opposition. Hopefully, this Irish team has driven on standards and set the tone of what's expected of Irish sides in the future."

The words of Brian O'Driscoll in 2011 when I sat down with him for a 'Special Report' on Sky Sports ahead of the World Cup in New Zealand.

A year later those sentiments, from one of the greatest centres of our generation, are a reminder of what is needed ahead of today's Test against a very physical Argentinian side.

Should Ireland win, they will remain in the top eight of the IRB world rankings, thus avoiding a meeting with two big guns in the group stages of the World Cup 2015.

Today's game will be a severe test for an understrength Irish side against a much improved Argentinian team. The Pumas have yet to win on Irish soil, but this match surely represents their best chance to date.

Since joining the Rugby Championship this season, the visitors are a different force to the one Ireland faced last time out. Regular matches at the highest standard have undoubtedly helped their cause and they come to Dublin with a deserved win in Cardiff under their belts.

With a five Test match losing streak hanging over them, Ireland must find improvement in all facets of their game.

The recent encounter against South Africa was an opportunity wasted. A repeat performance today will carry more significant consequences.

Last week's win over Fiji carried little meaning in the context of the examination that will be set by Argentina.

We did, however, get a glimpse of some of the talent that will form the new generation of Irish rugby including Craig Gilroy, who starts today after his hat-trick of tries against Fiji.

Without a number of key players, this Irish team is a work in progress, but to achieve any semblance of progression, they must capitalise on opportunities presented.

Against an average South African performance that was not the case. Let's hope tomorrow's headlines will be different.

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