Sunday 25 August 2019

Tony Ward: Future all that really counts for Irish

Adam Byrne during Ireland rugby squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Adam Byrne during Ireland rugby squad training. Photo: Sportsfile
Tony Ward

Tony Ward

"If you go back two years, how can you possibly move forward." Joe Schmidt's measured but typically courteous reply to a brain-dead question relating to Ireland's defeat to Argentina at the 2015 World Cup.

Between us and all harm, what possible relevance could a game played a little over two years ago in different circumstances and with a different context entirely have on a November Test match at the mid-point between World Cups?

Looking forward two years has far more relevance to this head-to-head today than anything that happened in the past, Lens included.

Look no further than the respective hookers and captains Rory Best and Agustin Creevy and I think it's easy to predict the type of built-in challenge today's game represents.

For the Pumas, who strangely enough have never beaten Ireland in Dublin (although 3-1 ahead at World Cups), that challenge, and a recent run of losing results, sees this as a must-win game in order to build on the momentum they hope to gain from last week's success in Italy.

For Ireland too, winning is important but not the be all and end all given the pre-series objective of allowing no player three starts.

That said, to go into the opening of the Six Nations away to France with three wins from three would make for a significant platform in every respect for Joe Schmidt.

In specific terms, the opportunity to test Adam Byrne is bold. So too the combination of Chris Farrell and Bundee Aki which is, of course, dictated by the injury to Robbie Henshaw on top of longer-term casualties Garry Ringrose and Jared Payne.

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