Joe Schmidt backs his Ireland squad to succeed on this month’s trip to South Africa, with the pre-tour pressure falling largely on the hosts.
The squad fly out on Sunday ahead of three games against the Springboks between June 11 and 25.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) June 2, 2016
Schmidt’s preparations have been hampered by injuries. Johnny Sexton, Luke Fitzgerald , Dave Kearney and Rob Kearney have all left the training camp - to be replaced by Ian Madigan, Matt Healy, Craig Gilroy and Tiernan O'Halloran.
But Schmidt is backing his side to shine on tour.
"Look, I think for us if we can stay competitive we're always a chance,” he said. “If we can stay in the game for as long as possible I think that can potentially unsettle them.
“The pressure does fall on them a little bit - they're at home, they've never lost to Ireland at home.”
That is not to say he underestimates the size of the task they face, with their players keen to impress new manager Allister Coetzee.
"I know that their motivation is going to be very, very high. When a new coach comes in some of the established players are going to want to demonstrate that they should have been there and deserve the right to remain there.
"There's going to be new players and the selection that Allister Coetzee has made is a real mix with some fantastic experience and, at the same time, some really exciting new players.”
"I think whatever we try to do will be in the context of the motivation they have and what they try to put together. Hopefully, if we can stay in contact with them for long enough in a game I think the players we have will potentially find a way."
And he backed today’s call-ups to gel quickly with the rest of the squad and present a united front.
"My expectation is that the players will work hard, they'll unite really effectively under Rory's leadership and that we will be competitive. Whether that's enough, we'll find out on the 11th, 18th and 25th of June."
"Expectations are never based around results, as much as that's how we're judged. We can't control all the variables around the results.