Ireland putting in hard yards in Portugal

Ireland putting in hard yards in Portugal

Ireland are confident their seven-day warm-weather training camp in Portugal will stand them in good stead for the heat and humidity they can expect during their World Cup campaign in Japan next month.

Joe Schmidt’s 40-strong playing group have been on the Algarve at the Quinta do Lago campus near Faro since leaving their regular base at Carton House last Wednesday and have been training during the hottest parts of the day when temperatures have been regularly topping 30C.

“The lads have been working hard in the gym and working hard to prepare themselves to come out and train under a fair bit of pressure in a fairly warm part of the day as we try and replicate that heat we might encounter in Japan,” forwards coach Simon Easterby told the IRFU website yesterday.

Japan-based Ireland scrum coach Greg Feek, who will coach there full-time after the World Cup, believes training in hot weather is a huge positive.

It will help. We will knuckle down, we have got some good facilities, and I think it is also good to get the group tight together. We will be there a long time so it will be good to get a bit of camaraderie around that too.

That time together before Ireland flies to London on Thursday ahead of their warm-up Test against England at Twickenham on Saturday, may also allow Feek to share some of his knowledge of Japan and what the players can expect when they arrive there on September 12 — ten days out from an opening pool game against Scotland in Yokohama.

Ireland’s second opponents will be the hosts, six days on from the Scots on September 28. Japan are pretty confident themselves right now having lifted the Pacific Nations Cup to rise to their highest ranking of ninth in the world. Feek has been hugely impressed by their progress.

“They have got a lot of guys who have come in through eligibility, they have been training during the whole of the Super Rugby (campaign) on and off, in and out and are trialling different combinations.

“I don’t know if you have seen some of the footwork of their outside backs, that’s Japan rugby. A lot of teams have footwork like that and it is very hard to defend at times. Their half-backs like to have a crack as well.

"They are quite quick off the ground with their pass, you can see their style of play, it is as many numbers on their feet as you can, less numbers in rucks and speed of ball. Now they have brought in a few variants in their set-piece attack, the kicking game which can be an issue over there with the humidity so, yes, there are some exciting things for them.”

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