Scots will struggle to knock Ireland out of elite group – Smal
Ireland assistant coach Gert Smal believes that Scotland aren't capable of derailing his side's desperate scramble to remain within the world's top eight ahead of next month's 2015 World Cup draw.
Only a freakish result in Murrayfield for Scotland (ninth) against South Africa, or a victory for Samoa (10th) against Wales on Friday, can endanger the eighth-placed Irish in their efforts to remain on the cut line for the crucial second seeding for the World Cup.
Should both Scotland and Samoa lose, then Ireland will remain in eighth place regardless of the result against the seventh-placed Pumas when they visit Dublin in 10 days' time.
"If Scotland can't hold their physicality against South Africa, they will struggle," predicted Smal, who was forwards coach when the Springboks won the 2007 World Cup.
"The three things you have to stop is their physicality, their kick chase and the mauls. If they can't deal with that, they won't stop them.
"If they can manage to stop them, they have a chance. I wasn't involved in the Six Nations last season, so I can't really make any comment too much further. We're just focusing on ourselves this week."
Ulster wing Tommy Bowe suffered a dead leg in training yesterday at Carton House, but he will be fit to face Argentina and indeed Fiji this Saturday if required. Eoin Reddan (ankle) has rehabilitated well, despite some initial concern and is also in contention for both games as Ireland prepare to sprinkle their selection this weekend with a host of young players.
"It's a Catch 22," said Smal. "You want to give young guys an opportunity, but you also want to keep up momentum. So, it's about keeping a balance and seeing that you still win the game."