Melatonin supplements, blue-light-blocking glasses - How Ireland players combated jet lag on trip to Australia
NO DETAIL is considered inconsequential to Joe Schmidt’s Ireland squad. Everything is taken in consideration, with controls even exerted over the Ireland squad’s sleep patterns on the way to Australia for their tour Down Under.
The orders came from strength and conditioning coach Jason Cowman.
There were melatonin supplements, blue-light-blocking glasses and strict restrictions on sleep patterns to shrink the jet lag as the players were broken up into two flying squadrons.
“We had a strategy in place to combat the jet lag as much as we could,” said James Ryan.
“I was in the first group and on the first flight. We were told to only sleep for 90 minutes but then on the second flight we could sleep as much as we wanted. Once we got here, we had to stay awake. We got here at 6.30am (on Saturday) so we had to stay awake for the whole day, which was tough.
“But then I slept pretty well that night.”
Of course, second-row sensation Ryan won’t want to sleep on his unbeaten record for club and country.
It will come under severe pressure from Michael Cheika’s Wallabies on Saturday evening in Brisbane (11.00am Irish time, Sky Sports Action).
The two nations share something valuable in common when it comes to recent success over the world champions.
“They’re the last team that has beaten the All Blacks,” he said.
“They beat them in the last game in Suncorp Stadium, so we’re expecting an incredibly tough Test match.
“We will be tested and we’re excited but aware of the threat that they pose.”
Unlike the bulk of Southern Hemisphere countries, Ryan is well-versed on the strengths of the Australians.
This knowledge is not just limited to the slings and arrows of their forwards.
“Like every good Aussie team, they like to play with the ball in hand a lot,” maintained Ryan.
“They’ve got some serious outside backs and guys in the centre, guys like Kurtley Beale, Tevita Kuridrani, Marika Koroibete, Israel Folau.
“If they get (on the) front foot, they’ll be really hard to stop,” he added.
“So there’s plenty of talent there in the backline that we’re going to have to do our best to shut down.”
Beginning to sound like Joe Schmidt for his ability to go through the Aussies one by one, Ryan knows Ireland will have to contain the big men up front.
It all starts with the dual threat posed by natural opensides Michael Hooper and David Pocock, should coach Cheika go for both as an upgraded version of the Scarlets’ dynamic duo, Tadhg Beirne and James Davies.
“It’s a collective effort,” said Ryan.
“We talk about Pocock being very good over the ball, but Hooper is very good over the ball, Scott Sio, (Sekope) Kepu is another big man.
“It’s not just one threat. There’s a variety of them and we’ve spoken about us being very aggressive in that area and removing any threats.
“It’s certainly a target for us this week.”
It will also be pressed how Ireland have to be able to deal with the stress and strain from a long season.
This has been boosted by the unprecedented success of Leinster and Ireland.
The Grand Slam sweep is not that long ago that everyone has forgotten how Ireland achieved on the road to France and England.
This just happens to be the last three steps in what could be the perfect season for more than just Ryan.