Thursday 17 October 2019

'I feel we'll have some opportunities' - Japanese duo pinpoint areas they feel they can hurt Ireland

Tim Lafaele says Ireland have weaknesses
Tim Lafaele says Ireland have weaknesses

Jonathan Bradley

DESPITE Ireland limiting Scotland to only a single penalty yesterday, Japanese players Uwe Helu and Tim Lafaele both say they have spotted vulnerabilities in their defence ahead of this weekend's game between the hosts and Joe Schmidt's men.

The pool opening win was the first time that Ireland have held opponents to three points since the autumn of 2017, and only the fourth time under Joe Schmidt, but Helu believes the aggressive style defence coach Andy Farrell used to shut down Scotland's playmakers leaves space outside that Japan's back-three can exploit.

"For me, watching that I feel we'll have some opportunities," said the Tongan born Sunwolves forward of Ireland's win.

"Should I tell you? Like when they defend they get quite close to each other. (Out wide), that's where I think the space is."

From their new team base in Hamamatsu ahead of Saturday's clash in Shizuoka, Helu went on to predict that Ireland may already be looking ahead to their presumptive quarter-final with South Africa.

"Everyone expects Ireland to win because they're number one at the moment," he said, although Ireland actually fell to number two this morning thanks to New Zealand's win over the Springboks.

"I think they will look down on us, that's for sure. And we'll do everything when we get our chance.

"I think every game for us is a final so we'll give everything. We're hosting the World Cup. There's nothing for us to leave behind so I think every game we have to give everything."

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Lafaele, whose sublime offload was the moment of the opening game against Russia, also stressed the importance of utilising space out wide, adding that Ireland also looked shaky under the high ball in Yokohama.

"That's always been a key part of our game, getting the ball into the space with our wingers there," he said. "We've got really good wingers and we've been working hard at it for the last couple of years as well.

"If there's a good opportunity to put our wingers into space, that's what we'll do.

"I watched (Ireland's) game yesterday. There were a few dropped high balls.

"We'll see what the game plan is for the week and if it's to put them bombs up, we'll put them up and chase well and put some pressure on.

"I think they're a really strong team, they hold the ball well and they're patient in defence."

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