Tuesday 19 June 2018

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Must win game for Under 20s

Wednesday, 6th June, 2018 3:35pm

It's last chance saloon for the Irish Under 20 rugby side who play a must-win game against Georgia this evening.

The Irish side have lost their opening two matches to hosts France and South Africa in Pool C of the U-20 World Cup and must take the maximum points against Georgia to ensure progression from the pool stage. The final pool game comes on the back of a disappointing result against South Africa, a game the Irish lost 30-17. This is despite Ireland leading 17-12 after halftime thanks to two converted tries from Caelan Doris and Michael Silvester wither side of halftime.

However, the injury-enforced absence of some key players was keenly felt when the South African forwards got on top during the final half hour, and Wandisile Simelane's trio of scores, coupled with a Gianni Lombard penalty, consigned Noel McNamara's youngsters to back-to-back defeats.

Meanwhile the men's senior squad face their first test game on Saturday in Brisbane against Australia. This week Irish scrum coach Greg Feek joined up with the squad from his base in Japan where he coaches Japanese side Ricoh, a role he juggles with his Irish coaching position.

Speaking about the build-up to the first Test game, Feek said fatigue and jet lag doesn't appear to be affecting the squad so far.

“We're looking pretty good at the moment. You couldn't time it better in terms of turning up here when the weather is good but also Brisbane, the Gold Coast; I think it does help waking up with a bit of heat, big yellow's in the sky and it does mean adapting in.

“The boys are up early running around so the body clock will start to kick in fairly quick and that's all part of our preparation for the Test as well. The boys have got plenty of energy in the mornings.”

With a fully fit 32 man squad to pick from, Feek said of Saturday's Test: “The challenge of test match footie is coming in that first week and trying to put something together that you're about and that's what their challenge will be.

“If you look at how the Super Rugby teams are playing, they're playing some pretty good rugby in terms of tries scored and a physical approach, they've got some exciting players there. Obviously the fans here will be looking to see (Australia) get their hands on the ball.

“The headache for the coaching group of Australia is who they actually select as their starting team and that’s a positive. We’ve had a look and you look at the referee, the conditions, everything. But the priority would be to make sure we have what we stand for and what we’re about for the week,” he said.

As for his dual responsibilities, Feek, who is contracted to his Irish role until 2020, said: “I won’t be there full-time but it won’t change too much. The provinces do a great job, the communication is pretty straightforward. Most people have some sort of app to stay in touch, it’s just a matter of making sure you’re using the right one. Apart from that, we’ve got good relationships.

“I’ve known Joe long enough that I can almost predict when he’s going to call me, so I’ll email or text him first. I try and do that at four o’clock in the morning to pay him back for some of the emails he’s sent me at that time.

“We all get on really well together in the coaching group, we have some good fun, and I was really looking forward to catching up with the lads again, not just the players,” he concluded.

Ireland play Australia in the first of three Test matches on Saturday 9 June. Kick-off in Brisbane is at 11am Irish time.

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