Thursday 19 September 2019

Reddan: 'I know we will deliver when we get there'

Eoin Reddan is looking forward to playing in his third World Cup
Eoin Reddan is looking forward to playing in his third World Cup

Eoin Reddan isn't giving it the hard sell when asked if he's allowing himself to get excited by the upcoming World Cup, beginning his answer with a less than encouraging "this is going to sound like a boring answer..."

But what follows is far more interesting than your usual 'one game at a time' mantra trotted out by the professionals as the scrum-half explains why he believes Ireland can achieve great things in Wales and England next autumn.

The tournament remains a while away as emphasised by the fact that Joe Schmidt's side kick off their campaign against Canada in Cardiff a day before the All-Ireland football final, but Thursday's meeting with the Barbarians is the first step on the journey.

All season, players have been able to point to the next match in other competitions to avoid talking about the World Cup, but now there is nothing but clear water as the season draws to a close. And Reddan, a veteran of the 2007 and 2011 campaigns, is experiencing a new feeling as he and his fellow back-to-back Six Nations winners look ahead.

"What excites me is that I feel like I know what we will deliver when we get there for once," the 34-year-old explained.

"I know what's going to be good about our game, I know what we'll be accurate at and I think we'll perform.

Occasion

"Then, results are results. Things happen and go up and down, externally and internally, and that's what happens at World Cups. Expectations build, the warm-up games go too well and the media think it's a bad sign... it's ups and downs.

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"I think I was asked before we played France last year and Scotland this year about the big game, ignore the occasion. It's quite a nice thing as a player to know that, if you do your own bit, the guy next to you is going to do his bit.

"Going into such a big tournament with so much on the line, to be able to bring it right down to that and keep it as simple as 'I'll go out with Richie (Murphy) in the off-season and do my passing and do my kicking' and 'I don't have to be worrying about what everyone else is doing', we could achieve something great.

"I don't think we'll be results-orientated. I think we'll get on with the process from now and I think that's what's exciting about it. The odds, because we're going to do that, it gives us a great chance.

"After that, you just don't know, sport is sport and anything can happen. You just have to manage expectations but it's exciting. I know what we'll deliver because everyone knows what's required of them and how to get there from here."

Reddan was a fresh face at the disastrous 2007 campaign in France, while he was an experienced member of the 2011 squad which ended in mixed emotions depending on whether you were inside or outside the camp.

On paper, there are parallels with his first outing when Ireland came into the tournament on form, but for the Limerick native it is a world away.

"Before 2007, we were playing really well. We got great results," he recalled.

"I don't think anyone at the time, in fairness, could put their finger on why or how. Certainly from what I knew of the game then, it was much harder to put your finger on why you were winning, is it the other team, is it you, are you delivering something special?

"In 2011, we were very much up and down going into it, we had a great game against England here in the Aviva to stop them winning the Grand Slam about seven months before which gave us a great belief but we still weren't sure.

"We played OK against America, beat Australia and them - Boom! - all of a sudden, for everyone else it was a great World Cup.

"That was another challenge which we probably didn't deal with well enough, that all of a sudden everyone is telling you that was enough, 'You've done a great job'. I remember getting clapped coming home and I was thinking 'Jesus, we've just lost to Wales in a quarter-final. If this was Wales in a Six Nations week, there would be no-one here, everyone would be on our back'. But because we had beaten Australia three weeks ago people were still saying how great it was.

"That's all part of it. This time I am more sure about what we'll deliver but, again, it doesn't mean anything about results.

"It just means we'll be able to deliver X, Y and Z and hopefully deal with those ups and downs a bit better because you won't be too worried about results, you'd be like, 'OK, we beat Australia - did we do this, this and this? And can we do it again?' would be a question you'd be asking and hopefully ignore either positive or negative criticism from outside."

On Thursday, Reddan will bring the curtain down on the season when Ireland face the Barbarians at Thomond Park.

Up against them is a man who knows the World Cup format well having been on the end of Ireland's most famous win, former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans.

Four years on, the Kiwi believes Ireland should be installed as favourites for the tournament after claiming the Six Nations trophy in successive seasons.

"They have been developing and planning for it and he (Schmidt) has done a good job," Deans said.

"They know they can beat the All Blacks and if anybody should be favourites (at the World Cup), it's them, depending on who you should talk to. They are on track in terms of preparations and have a genuine shot. They have a good dose of experience and are still travelling upwards."

Schmidt will assess his players against the Barbarians and on the Emerging tour before naming his 45/50-man provisional squad in June and has until September 6 to name his final 31-man squad.

The way is clear for the squad and management to look forward to the big show and it is clear that Reddan believes that there is plenty of reasons to be optimistic.

 

Schmidt's new faces

Joe Schmidt may have one eye on the future with the seven new men in his squad to face the Barbarians:

Tadhg Furlong

(Leinster, prop, 22)

Tighthead prop with a big future, the Wexford native has impressed for Leinster this season after making 26 appearances. Has been in previous Ireland squads, but yet to win a cap.

Jack Conan

(Leinster, No 8, 22)

Leinster's young player of the year made big strides this season and lined out for the Wolfhounds in January.

Ben Marshall

(Leinster, second-row, 24)

Second-row Marshall made a late surge into the Leinster picture after largely being out of favour under Matt O'Connor, impressing in the run-in.

Cian Kelleher

(Leinster, full-back, 20)

It's been an impressive few weeks for Lansdowne's Kelleher who made his Leinster debut last week, could pull on the green jersey on Thursday and has been named on the 'Emerging Ireland' squad for the Tblisi Cup.

Stuart McCloskey

(Ulster, centre, 22)

Big centre with a bright future, McCloskey has enjoyed an impressive breakthrough season and has been a regular in the Ulster squad. Another bound for Georgia.

Luke McGrath

(Leinster, scrum-half, 22)

Long hailed as a future star, McGrath's route to the top has been blocked by the form of Eoin Reddan and Isaac Boss. The UCD No 9 now gets a chance to shine.

Colm O'Shea

(Leinster, centre, 24)

Clontarf man made his first appearance of the season in final game, but impressed against Edinburgh. Hampered by injury, but Leinster have kept faith.

Irish Independent

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