June International Tours

Opportunity knocking for Ireland A

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Ireland A coach Michael Bradley has upped the ante ahead of Tuesday’s Churchill Cup clash with New Zealand Maori by revealing a number of his players are in the mix for World Cup selection.

Bradley has been in regular contact with Ireland head coach Eddie O’Sullivan, who is on tour with the senior team in Argentina, to give updates on his squad’s progress.

O’Sullivan is considering a small group of the A team for the handful of places still available in his World Cup party, but Bradley insists they must deliver over the next two games to remain in contention.

“Eddie O’Sullivan is in daily contact with us during the Churchill Cup. We’re giving him updates on the players and how they progress,” said Bradley.

“There are probably four or five of these lads who have a chance of making it to the World Cup – they’re already on Eddie’s radar.

“Of course, much depends on their performances over the next couple of games.

“If they perform well against the Maori and then on finals day, they will have done their chances a world of good.

“And of course there may be some players in Argentina who don’t perform well and they could fall out of favour.

“There are options available to Eddie and the Churchill Cup is great in that respect because it gives these guys an opportunity to prove themselves.”

With both teams making light work of Canada in their pool openers, tomorrow’s showdown in Exeter has become a straight shootout for a place in the cup final at Twickenham on Saturday.

The Maori ran in nine tries to register a crushing 59-23 victory over Canada on Friday but coach Donny Stevenson knows Ireland will be far more formidable – especially up front.

“Ireland are very physical. They racked up a big score against Canada, using strong running forwards and backs to do the damage,” Stevenson said.

“They’re strong around set-pieces and that will be key. Ireland have been the most consistent of the home nations and that has been reflected in their depth.

“We saw their senior team in the Six Nations so we know all about the strength of Irish rugby.

“They gave us a bruising encounter in the Churchill Cup last year and their depth of talent is evidence of how strong their rugby is at the moment.”

 

365 Digital

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