Further evidence of the influence of West Cork rugby in the Munster team has come with the inclusion of Rosscarbery flanker John Hodnett for his first Guinness Pro 14 start — against South African side Southern Kings — at Musgrave Park this evening, kick-off 7. 35.
So much for stormy weather. The clouds may have been gathering around Ireland as they prepared to face Grand Slam champions Wales in Dublin, and not just those being blown in by Storm Ciara. Yet when Johnny Sexton speaks, all becomes calm.
This becomes a delicate balancing act now. There are some very smart people in the Irish backroom team with Joe Schmidt, but this is mostly about the Irish players and the World Cup. You can see the confidence is skin deep at the moment, it’s not in their bones.
Not that Ireland haven’t enough to be getting on with, but there was little evidence in Scotland’s 34-0 defeat of Samoa in Kobe today that Gregor Townsend’s men are ready to rain on Japan’s World Cup parade come their decisive Pool A clash at the World Cup on Sunday October 13th.
Seeing Joe Schmidt is happy to do so, let’s start with Jack Carty. Even as recently as a week ago, if an Irish team to face the World Cup hosts had been named with Jack at 10, the general reaction might be best characterised by raised eyebrows.