Saturday 16 December 2017

McFadden: Young players have put their hand up for autumn internationals

Fergus McFadden goes over to score his side's second try against Canada
Fergus McFadden goes over to score his side's second try against Canada

Ireland's hat-trick hero Fergus McFadden said that players who impressed on the tour to the USA and Canada were driven by the desire to keep the jersey.

With 11 British and Irish Lion and a host of injured players absent, Les Kiss's inexperienced squad beat both sides on tour, finishing with a 40-14 win over the Canadians in Toronto.

McFadden crossed for three tries to become the first Ireland player to score a hat-trick since Kevin Maggs against Fiji in 2002.

And the Leinster winger believes that the young players put their hands up for selection in November, when Ireland face Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

"We said that going out before the game (against Canada), whoever had the jersey it would be their last performance until November and we tried to put our hands up for the coaches," he said

"We probably got off to a slowish start. When Canada come out of the blocks they're very physical. It probably took us until the 55th, 60th minute to break them down and get a few scores. From a team point of view, I think we improved massively from last week (15-12 win over United States).

"Personally, to score three tries for your country made it a really memorable day for me."

And coach Kiss was delighted with how his players put their hands up as he prepares to hand over the reins to Joe Schmidt this summer.

"It was a short tour, I think we had five new caps last week, in difficult conditions," Kiss said.

"The US backrow was very hard at the breakdown as was their whole team, and it probably wasn't managed as well as we would have liked to open up a game we would have liked to flow a bit more.

"I think (against Canada) we saw that. I thought both teams actually played with an endeavour and an ambition and I thought that was great for the team overall.

"We did make seven changes for the game and had been very proactive in training to build relationships that you do need on the pitch.

"Because the breakdown was a lot cleaner it opened up opportunities and our boys found the space we were hoping to find last week but it didn't come as often as we would have liked.

"We had two opportunities where we probably should've scored last week and they didn't come off but overall their intent to keep playing when we were 14-12 down at one stage was encouraging to say the least."

In particular, Kiss hailed fly-half Ian Madigan who leaves North America having moved up the pecking order behind Jonny Sexton and ahead of Paddy Jackson.

"I thought Ian deserved the start," he said.

"To manage a difficult game the way he did last week. It was quite seductive and tempting to actually overplay his hand last week but he controlled it and managed it and pushed the game where he needed to.

"He did some lovely things, some lovely touches. There was some errors there but our intent was to play a little bit more attacking rugby.

"I thought he was well supported by the back three, they did a really good job in terms of supporting his kicking and other short balls he was playing against a very tight Canadian defence at the start of the game."

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