McNaughton pleads for Irish fans' support
Ireland manager Paul McNaughton has made a desperate plea to supporters as fears grow that next Saturday's clash with Samoa could take place in a less than half-full Aviva Stadium.
The attendance issue hasn't been helped by Ireland's poor display against South Africa, although -- like the IRFU's admission last week over their ticket pricing error -- Ireland backs coach Alan Gaffney yesterday acknowledged that they got the tactics wrong.
"We've done a detailed analysis on what happened," he said. "We're not particularly happy with what occurred. Unfortunately it did occur and we're not running away from it. The performance wasn't what it should have been."
However, the supporters' boycott against the ticketing policy for the November Series is set to continue this weekend as the battle for hearts and minds continues to be lost by the IRFU.
"I'm not ashamed to ask those people to come to the match," said McNaughton, manager of an Ireland side that has lost six successive games. "If they have got tickets they might think the small game is the Samoa game. It's not a small game for us.
"I'm not immune to all this. I'm a member of a rugby club and I talk to people every day about it. The bond is still there. We were all very disappointed at that situation at the weekend where there were 35,000 people there.
"The IRFU have put up their hand in terms of the mess that was made. In terms of this game, it is a very important game for us. We need to get back on the winning trail."
Meanwhile, Munster prop Tony Buckley will not play again this month after suffering a hip flexor injury. Rob Kearney (knee) will miss this week's game also, but will return for Saturday week's clash with the All Blacks.
Leicester full-back Geordan Murphy and Connacht forward John Muldoon will play for their clubs against Australia and Samoa tonight and will not be available for selection today.
Leinster's Isaac Boss, Mike Ross and Fergus McFadden, Ulster back-row Chris Henry and Munster hooker Damien Varley have been added to the squad.
Assistant coach Gaffney was scathingly critical of Ireland's performance against the world champions but insisted his side would continue to develop their style of play.
"We are not going to go into our shells, we are going to keep going down this path," he said.