Friday 15 November 2019

Denis Hurley Player Diary: Tantalisingly close to a return but my patience will pay off in the end

Munster’s Mike Sherry is tackled by Glasgow’s Alex Allan
Munster’s Mike Sherry is tackled by Glasgow’s Alex Allan

Denis Hurley

I was back in full training for the first time this week, and it was great to get back into the thick of it. I still have a bit to go in terms of the strength in the ankle, but it feels a lot better than it was.

Contact work tests it all the time, holding bags for tackling was difficult and it's all part of the rebuilding process.

I need to get to a stage where I can sustain that bit of movement, but I am getting there. I had planned to take part in the 'A' game against Leinster during the week, but that was on the 4G surface in Donnybrook, so that wasn't a possibility.

All going well, I will be back in time for the Cardiff game, or even the 'A' game that follows that, against Connacht in the Sportsground.

I went up to the Munster and Glasgow Warriors game last Friday, it was a win and that's all - afterwards you knew from the guys, they didn't play as they would have wanted.

It was frustrating for them when the hard work in training didn't come to fruition on the field, and passes weren't sticking. Things we would usually do well didn't come off.


Our lineout didn't go so well, and maybe parts of the breakdown too, and they were parts of the game that we knew Glasgow would target.

It didn't matter what players Glasgow were missing, they have a process in the way they play, and it's embedded in their style of rugby. It doesn't matter who lines out for them. They have a philosophy on the field.

Three wins from three is brilliant and puts the club in a great position at the start of the season. With the competitive nature of the Pro12 this term, every win will give us a great boost.

If we can continue to pick up wins, you won't look back at this as an opportunity lost. Munster won the game, and that is all that will be taken from it.

The Ireland game was a funny one as well - from watching Ireland there was a lot more in the tank, but it didn't seem to happen on the pitch.

Italy are never a simple team to play against. You always have to perform to the top level when you are playing at international level. And without Peter O'Mahony's tackle on Josh Furno, when he was going in at the corner, the result could have been different.

It could have been a draw game with ten minutes to go, and you would have fancied Italy at that stage. They had all the momentum, but Ireland pulled through.

Ireland know themselves that that was a poor performance, and the players know they need to up it massively.

There were still flashes of brilliance: Keith Earls, Robbie Henshaw and Johnny Sexton worked a nice move for the try - but there wasn't enough of that throughout the 80 minutes.

Ireland have what it takes to break down a team like France, but they need to get into their flow and the combinations need to click at this stage.

The decision-making comes much easier when you have played beside a player before, and the combinations should be more used to each other by Sunday.

The game against Italy could have helped them massively in that regard and Ireland should be able to up it another 25pc.

France are a strong outfit, and I assume Ireland will look to use quick, clean ball to disrupt the French defence, and have them on the back foot from the outset.

Ireland need to get their players latching onto the likes of Sean O'Brien and Iain Henderson when they go into contact, and that will provide a great base to attack from.

At the same time, the more ball France get, the more dangerous they are. One of their biggest attributes is that they can do anything. That can work against the French at times too, but Ireland will look to control possession and they cannot leave anything to chance.

In the other big game, Australia look to be well on-form for their clash with Wales tomorrow evening.

Australia have been building quite nicely, I like their style of play with the way they tear teams apart - there is a bit of class about them. Bernard Foley at No 10 has stepped into the role, and is controlling things well.

He has sparked Australia into life, and unfortunately for Wales they have been decimated by injury. Even the heart they showed to get past England and Fiji might not be enough here.

They have had to play with new combinations all over the place in those games, and it's hard to keep the flow with that going on. They could be drained ahead of this one.

At the moment Australia are pushing the All Blacks for favouritism in this World Cup - New Zealand probably haven't shown their full deck of cards yet, but you can only go on what you have seen.

One thing for certain is Ireland haven't been anywhere near that standard yet in this World Cup. The Italian game highlighted that and Ireland need to up it a few levels on Sunday.

But I feel they can do that, and it would set up a very interesting quarter-final with their old rivals Argentina, who also seem quite dangerous. However, the key thing is to beat the French.

This has been the big game since the World Cup pools were announced. Ireland haven't had the ideal preparation. But they don't need the hype, the underdogs' tag is never a bad thing.

Irish Independent

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