Saturday 20 January 2018


A big disappointment last week against the Springboks, the scrum has been a major focus in training as coach Greg Feek continues his bedding-in process.

The priority is to establish a solid platform on Ireland's put-in, disrupting the Samoans ball would be a bonus and a psychological lift before taking on the All Blacks. Tom Court (pictured) impressed when replacing Tony Buckley at tight-head last week and is even more powerful at loose-head where he starts this afternoon. He should be more than capable of handling Anthony Perenise, but John Hayes looks to have a tougher test against Sakaria Taulafo, who is highly regarded at Wasps.

With Buckley out of the running, the Ireland management are also likely to take a look at Court on the tight-head side again when Cian Healy comes off the bench. It seems to safe to expect a much improved scrummaging performance from Ireland in an area where Samoa tend to lack cohesion.

This can manifest itself in less-than-airtight binding with the front-row not receiving the necessary support from behind. If Ireland do get on top, it creates a launch-pad for the back-row they did not have last weekend.

Irish Independent

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