Sport Rugby

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Feek expects 'ding-dong' battle with formidable Italian pack


Hugh Farrelly, in Dunedin

GREG FEEK is "nervous" ahead of the most "challenging and exciting" week of his coaching career as he prepares the Ireland scrum for a monumental challenge against the Italians in their do-or-die World Cup clash next weekend.

"Yeah, now that you have said it, you've made me nervous," said the Ireland scrum coach. "It is (do or die), and it is something we are used to in the Heineken Cup, a lot of the players have done it.

"I was lucky enough to experience it and the biggest thing in coaching is being relaxed but being focused and showing the trust and the confidence in what we are doing," said Feek, who masterminded Leinster's second-half scrum turnaround in their Heineken Cup final victory in May.

"We know it is not going to be easy, it is going to be a ding-dong, it could come down to the last 10 minutes but as long as we stick to what we know, we should be alright."

Ireland have won all three Pool C games so far but can still be dumped out of the competition if they lose on Sunday to a team that base their game around a scrum the former All-Black prop rates as the most formidable in the pool.

"You can see their game revolves a lot around that," he said. "Their forward pack in general, whether it's mauling, scrummaging, breakdown, the boys know they will have to be on song in terms of the physical side, and the mental side is massive."

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton said there would be updates today on the injuries to Paul O'Connell, Gordon D'Arcy (both hamstring) and Tommy Bowe (calf) but is "hopeful" they will be cleared to play.

Meanwhile, Russian hooker Valery Tsnobiladze has been cited for allegedly striking an opponent with the head during the 62-12 loss to Ireland last weekend.

Irish Independent

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