Wednesday 29 January 2020

'Victory would give us control of destiny'

Conor George

A win for Ireland over Argentina would leave them in control of their own destiny. That's the gospel Ireland team manager Mick Kearney and the full management team are preaching from this week.

Samoa's victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Friday has moved them above Scotland and into ninth place in the IRB rankings. That result has had a knock-on effect, with Argentina and Ireland both climbing one place to sixth and seventh respectively as a result of Wales' fall.

So, if Ireland win they potentially climb to sixth. If they lose they could fall to ninth and face a tough World Cup draw in a fortnight's time.

"We control our own destiny. We have to win the game to ensure we stay in the top eight for the draw," Kearney said.

The rankings work on a 'points exchange' system between the two teams involved in each fixture.

Greater weight is given to away victories. The other salient detail is the margin – a team beaten by more than 15 points will be punished by losing more ranking points. Teams winning by 15 or more get a bonus.

Ireland are on 79.04 points, with Argentina on 79.89. The Pumas' win over Wales means Argentina will almost certainly retain their top-eight seeding, once they avoid a hammering in Dublin.

"The bottom line is we need to beat Argentina. Rankings are, of course, hugely important in terms of the World Cup, but what we are concentrating on is the performance against Argentina," Kearney said.

"What we can control is our own performance and that's our focus. The approach will be very similar to teams playing in the Heineken Cup where they target the win and, if a bonus point is in the offing after that, then you take it.

"We won't be chasing anything, we will be seeking to perform to the best of our ability and win the game."

Irish Independent

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