Thursday 21 November 2019

Ireland v Scotland Six Nations clash: 'It's our biggest game yet under Schmidt'

Skipper Best admits his side are driven by fear as they look to keep Grand Slam dream alive

Garry Ringrose in action during the Ireland Captain’s
Run at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Garry Ringrose in action during the Ireland Captain’s Run at the Aviva Stadium yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Rory Best insists that Ireland's crunch Six Nations clash with Scotland this afternoon (2.15) is his side's biggest game yet under Joe Schmidt.

Ireland could win their third title in five years if they beat Scotland at Lansdowne Road and better England's result in Paris later in this evening.

Best admitted that the pressure is on Ireland as they look to stay on course for a Grand Slam showdown in Twickenham next weekend.

However, the Ireland captain insists that neither he nor his team-mates will not get caught up in the talk of potentially completing the clean sweep in England's backyard, particularly given Scotland's impressive form.

All 23 Ireland players came through yesterday's Captain's Run unscathed, with Scotland opting to hold their session away from Irish eyes, on home soil in Murrayfield.

However, at Parc y Scarlets last night there was a blow to the selection options for next week's trip to London, as Seán O'Brien's return to action with Leinster lasted only 27 minutes before he was forced off with a shoulder injury.

Having lost in the Scottish capital last year, Ireland don't need to look too far back in the memory bank to realise the threat posed by Gregor Townsend's side, as Best outlined.

"I suppose for us with the way the Championship started, this is probably the biggest game we've faced, certainly with this group, but potentially with an Ireland team under Joe.

"Because we've put ourselves in a really strong position and now the pressure is on us to make sure that we stick by what we said and that's 'Get better every game.'

"And that's not just with our details but that's also around our physicality and around bringing a bit of emotion and controlled emotion at times, and other times just letting that emotion go."

Best also admitted that he and his team-mates were driven by the fear of losing, as they look to avoid a real banana skin today.

"I think the biggest fear we have is under-performing," the hooker, who also revealed that he is close to signing a new contract with the IRFU, maintained.

"And obviously that will go hand in hand, because we know the calibre of the teams we're playing now. We kind of knew after the first two games that that was kind of us into the tournament, but that the finish of the tournament was going to be the real test of where we are.

"The fear factor is just not performing. That will ultimately lead to a result that we don't want.

"All of that is pieces of the jigsaw that drive you forward. When you get really competitive people, you just hope when we get to the battle and a couple of things maybe don't go our way, or a couple of things are a little bit foreign, that the competitiveness comes in. And the fact we have been here a little bit before comes into it and we can use that experience.

"And they have a wealth of experience as well throughout, but we've got to make sure we control everything we can control, and that is everything around our game.

"When things go badly, we're able to take a breath and get ourselves back on track. I feel we have players capable of doing that. So do Scotland.

"When your moment comes you've got to be massive in that moment.

"That's what it takes to win. We've done it in some big games along the way."

Meanwhile, London Irish have confirmed that Declan Kidney (technical consultant) and Les Kiss (head coach) will take over with immediate effect.

Irish Independent

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