The South African pack maul their way over the line to score a penalty try during the first Test at Loftus Versfeld Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland look to turn over rugby world champions

By Alex Redmond

Ireland face a mammoth task this Saturday when they look to beat the world champions when they face South Africa in the second and final Test in Durban.

Injuries to hooker Dan Sheehan and scrum-half Craig Casey mean that Connacht’s Dave Heffernan and Ulster’s Nathan Doak are now with the squad.

The team will be named today Thursday by head coach Andy Farrell.

Last weekend in difficult conditions at altitude, Ireland fought to the end, yet mistakes proved too costly as they lost 27 points to 20 against a physically dominant South Africa in an an intense and brutal Test match.

Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan has been ruled out after sustaining a potential ACL tear. Ireland's centre partnership Robbie Henshaw and Bundee Aki are doubts along with winger James Lowe. Scrum-half Craig Casey sustained a concussion, also ruling him out.

After Sheehan’s serious injury, Ulster’s Rob Herring is likely to be picked on the bench for Ireland.

In the midfield, Farrell has the experience of Gary Ringrose to slot in at thirteen and the choice of the physicality of Stuart McCloskey or the agility of utility back Ciaran Frawley at twelve.

Veteran Conor Murray is ready to slot in at scrumhalf, following his Munster teammate’s injury.

Speaking during the week on the confidence he’s been feeling about his game, he said: “I feel good, feel fit, feel good about my game for the last part of the season, ready to rock next week.”

When asked what Ireland will need to do to secure a second Test win in a press conference, Andy Farrell said: “Quite a bit actually”.

He emphasized the point that staying focused for the full eighty minutes and not becoming desperate to secure the win was vital.

The head coach added that Ireland must be more clinical and keeping unforced errors to a minimum. The message from the Irish camp is that Ireland are better than last Saturday and are eager to prove it this week.

Can cool heads prevail and Ireland put together a complete performance they showed glimpses of in the first Test?

Or will the world champions continue their dominance with a series win over Ireland?

Ireland face South Africa at Kings Park, Durban, this Saturday at 3pm.