Monday 9 December 2019

Ireland U-20s inspiring senior counterparts in South Africa

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Port Elizabeth

The success of Ireland’s U-20s has not gone unnoticed in South Africa where the senior squad are cheering on their march to the World Cup final in Manchester.

Nigel Carolan’s side hammered Argentina to reach a show-piece against hosts England on Saturday night, hours after Joe Schmidt’s men take on the Springboks in Port Elizabeth and members of the squad gathered at the team hotel to watch their progress.

The U-20s have beaten New Zealand, Wales, Georgia and the Pumitas on their run to the final and the senior e team have been inspired by their efforts according to scrum coach Greg Feek.

“We’ve been keeping an eye on them and we’re pretty proud of how they’re getting on,” the former All Black said.

“We’re even inspired by some of their performances and what they’re doing. We’re certainly wish them all the best in their upcoming final against England.”

Feek has been particularly impressed by the efforts of Leinster loosehead Andrew Porter who has been outstanding in the U-20’s run to the final.

Porter was among the players who today were confirmed as first year academy players at their home province and he looks to have a big future ahead of him.

“He’s a strong man,” Feek said. “He’s really starting to grow into himself. I think he’s really grown over the last six months. He’s grown into his core roles, particularly. He’s always been pretty strong and that’s starting to transfer now. It’s great to see for him.”

Feek’s primary concern this week is turning the senior team’s fortunes around after last Saturday’s second-half collapse in the face of an onslaught from the ‘Boks who came from 16 points down to level the series at one-all.

“South Africa played really well,” he said. “The showed how dangerous they are as a team.

“We know we have to be better than that in that last quarter so they’re a world class side, so there’s a number of little things that we need to get right and I suppose looking after the ball is one thing and obviously there’s a few other errors that were made.

“Some of the guys who came in were probably trying a bit too hard at times maybe so I suppose that’s the mental part of Test matches.”

Ireland second-row Devin Toner believes that the lure of winning a Test series on South African soil for the first time will be motivation enough for the tourists who are playing the 17th game of a long season.

“It’s quite important to us,” the Leinster lock said.

“Going into that first game, it was quite important as well as we’ve never won in South Africa before so I think that was playing on our minds a bit and now once we’ve got that win, I think we can push on to make a bit of more history now.

“So, it is in the back of our heads but we’re not going to be as emotional or as invested in that to the detriment of our gameplen or how we’re going to play.

“As I said, it is going to be in the back of our heads but I think the main thing is to get the performance right.”

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