Sunday 21 January 2018

Ireland players watch footage of 2007 nightmare to guard against World Cup complacency

Joe Schmidt aware of dangers in opening match against Canada

Rob Kearney
Rob Kearney
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has moved to cut out complacency in his Ireland side ahead of their opening World Cup clash with Canada by showing his players footage of the near-disastrous 2007 pool games against Namibia and Georgia.

Rob Kearney has revealed that the players have reviewed the tape of that nightmare fortnight in Bordeaux in order to ensure that they know exactly what might happen if they take their eyes off the ball in their first two games against the North Americans and Romania.

Eight years ago, after a series of poor performances in the warm-up games, Ireland struggled to beat the Africans and came perilously close to suffering a shock defeat by Georgia. They never recovered their momentum and lost to France and Argentina to exit at the pool stages.

This time, Ireland come into the tournament as back-to-back Six Nations champions and are hoping to put their successive warm-up defeats by England and Wales behind them at the Millennium Stadium.

They are unbackable favourites to beat Canada, but their full-back warned against complacency.

"Emotion counts for a huge amount at World Cups," Kearney said.

"We saw that eight years ago with the Namibians and the Georgians. Everyone expected that we'd wipe the floor with them and we saw a few clips of that game recently and the emotion that they brought to that game and the physicality was enormous.

"One thing with rugby, more so than with other sports, if you bring a massive edge and a huge amount of physicality, you'll be right in the game."

The Ireland team react after Georgia scored their second try during their 2007 Rugby World Cup clash
The Ireland team react after Georgia scored their second try during their 2007 Rugby World Cup clash

Asked why they had been shown those games in particular, Kearney said: "I think it was pretty self-explanatory.

"We've watched a lot of clips from four years ago and then those few matches from eight years ago, just to show to us that if we're not switched on this is what teams can do."

IRELAND TEAM FIXTURES 2018

Date / Time Teams

Ireland trained under the closed roof at the Millennium Stadium yesterday and there were no late injury concerns going into the opening game.

Although the Cardiff venue is not sold out for its first 2015 World Cup game, organisers are expecting around 65,000 and most of those will be backing the Six Nations champions who are overwhelming favourites to open with an emphatic win.

With Canada ranked 19th in the world, the bookies are offering a 41-point spread in favour of the European champions.

Schmidt has named a side packed with experience for the match, with Paul O'Connell leading the side on his 105th cap.

And vice-captain Jamie Heaslip believes that experience and tournament know-how will stand to the side in the weeks to come.

"There's a lot of lads there with a lot of game-time under their belt," he said.

"The way we play our European competition in terms of each game is quite important, to get out of your group is your main goal and then, once you're out, you're in knockout rugby which is anyone's game.

"But, that's why that game-by-game mentality has to be harvested at the group stage in terms of propelling this team forward.

"That experience of doing that at the World Cup is passed on to the guys, but all these guys have played European rugby so they know the format and pressures that come with that."

Irish Independent

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