Saturday 19 October 2019

'It will probably provide a bit of motivation' - Ireland feeling the heat as Japan target 'illegal' Healy at scrum

Cian Healy makes his way to the pitch prior to the Ireland Rugby squad training at the Yumeria Sports Grounds
Cian Healy makes his way to the pitch prior to the Ireland Rugby squad training at the Yumeria Sports Grounds

Ruaidhri O'Connor in Hamamatsu

IRELAND are feeling the heat in Japan as the hosts raised the temperature on loosehead prop Cian Healy ahead of the clash between the sides in Shizuoka tomorrow.

Joe Schmidt said the Brave Blossoms have poked the bear by criticising his No 1's scrummaging technique and expressed his hope that referee Angus Gardner won't be swayed by the home fans with a full house expected in the 50,889-capacity stadium.

Although they were impressive in their opening weekend win over Scotland in Yokohama, Ireland can see the danger in taking on Japan at their home World Cup, with the forecast for 28-degree heat and 66 per cent humidity as they come off a six-day turnaround while Japan have had eight days to recover from their win over Russia.

Both coaches made four changes, with Schmidt forced into a late alteration when Jack Conan got injured in training with Peter O'Mahony recalled at the 11th hour.

Japan head coach Jamie Joseph has left captain Michael Leitch on the bench and reiterated the criticism of Ireland's scrummaging and Healy's performance in particular.

"We're coming up against a very strong scrum; yes, at times they are illegal, but at all times they are a very strong scrum," Joseph said when asked about prop Yusuke Kizu's comments earlier this week.

Schmidt is unhappy with officiating in Ireland's opening game when they were on the wrong side of a 7-6 penalty count from Wayne Barnes.

"It was annoying and surprising considering that a lot of what we did we felt we were kind of on top in that game," he said of the opening clash.

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And he said Healy would be inspired by Kizu's criticism.

"Certainly what was said by Kizu was a big surprise for us, and will probably provide a bit of motivation for Cian on Saturday," he added.

He also felt his side didn't get just reward from tomorrow's referee Angus Gardner when he last took charge of Ireland against Wales in the Six Nations.

"We didn't play particularly well but we didn't feel we got a lot of the rub of the green from Angus either," said Schmidt.

"If you look back at the scrum we actually went straight through the middle of the Welsh scrum to get a turnover ball very early in the game and then when they ran around the corner we get no receipt (of penalties) from that and they were given penalty rewards, which was incredibly frustrating."

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