Sport

Friday 28 July 2017

Simon Easterby: Ireland won't be derailed by distractions

Simon Easterby insists Ireland are fully focused on securing victory over England
Simon Easterby insists Ireland are fully focused on securing victory over England

Ireland will steel themselves to shut out all distractions when they host England in today's RBS 6 Nations finale.

From the desire to spoil England's Grand Slam and world-record party, to chasing second place in the world rankings, the Aviva Stadium encounter is dripping with motivation for the hosts.

England can land a second successive Grand Slam for the first time since 1992 and also seal a 19th straight win, while victory for the hosts would boost Ireland's 2019 World Cup pool draw prospects.

But just as captain Rory Best insisted Ireland must chase a good 80-minute performance over denying England an historic win, forwards coach Simon Easterby demanded his side ignore any outside interests.

"It's tight, it's an old adage, when you think about getting the performance right you must only think about those other things that are inside our control," he said.

"If we win the game, then we secure that spot (second in the world rankings), but certainly thinking about it will derail a bit of that focus and it's important we don't get distracted by that.

"Our focus all week, after the result in Wales, it's certainly about improving areas we didn't get right, and also backing up things we did do well.

"If we get distracted by what's going on outside of that it'll take away from our performance."

Ireland will be aiming to stay inside the top-four world-ranking berths after this weekend, in order to remain in the first pot ahead of the World Cup pool draw in May.

Wales could still sneak into the top four with a win over France in Paris on the Six Nations' final weekend, while England would stay second in the world with an historic win over the Irish.

Ireland face an uphill struggle without the injured, stellar scrum-half Conor Murray, with Kieran Marmion primed for his first Six Nations start.

Captain Best insisted the Connacht half-back is ready for the challenge.

"It is a massive day for him," said Best of Marmion.

"You just have to look at the way he's performing, not just last season, but this season for Connacht - this is something he deserves.

"He is very unlucky he is behind a real world-class nine.

"It is his day. We always talk that you get your opportunity along the line through someone else's misfortune. Well, his opportunity has come now."

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