McFarland: Uruguay will be far tougher test

Emerging Ireland head coach Dan McFarland expects much more resistance from Uruguay than the feeble Russian effort, but won’t be sidetracked for the second of three IRB Nations Cup games at the Stadeionul National Arcul de Triumf today (2 pm Irish time).

McFarland: Uruguay will be far tougher test

McFarland has consigned the Russian game to history and is now fully focused on the Uruguay challenge:

“First and foremost, after the Russia game we made it absolutely clear as a team together, everybody, that we were going to focus on what we did, should do and what we needed to get right.

“In regard to looking forward to Uruguay we would expect a lot more. We have seen good footage from them, they’re a very passionate team and they play with a lot of energy. They take massive pride in their defence, we know that from the way they showed against Romania. They’re not a particularly big team but they work very hard for each other and we would certainly expect the defence to be a big notch up from what we experienced last time.

“We must also focus on what we’re going to do. From the last match maybe we’ll get an opportunity to put some of the things we wanted to put in place.”

Even with ten changes from the opening match, McFarland is happy he has the resources to carve out a second victory.

“Right from the beginning it was important that people got opportunities to play, not just to come to train but to get game time, that was the plan and we’re going to get some of these guys against Uruguay.

“Both Neil (Doak) and myself have been very impressed with everybody across the squad and we’re looking forward to see them get an opportunity to play.

“The application has been immense in terms of the way they have trained and the way they have come together as a group. It may sound like a cliché but it is true, there is a tremendous amount of motivation to do well within Irish rugby and if you have that kind of intense drive, and you have the leaders within the group that demand standards then you have a chance to achieve success.”

Is that drive relatively new? “No, I would say it is relatively old, you only have to look of the success of the provinces over a long time to know that this kind of attitude flows through Irish rugby almost as a given.

“Maybe coming away on this tour after a long season takes a bit out of them but I think they see the opportunity. They saw the opportunity in last year’s emerging tour and players jumped up, it’s what drives them on and it’s up to us, myself, Neil and tour manager Joey Miles to give them a vehicle to perform.”

Despite all the changes, there is a depth of experience to the team as well, most of them having gained extensive or reasonable experience with the provinces.

The watching Irish assistant coach Les Kiss will pay some attention to the performance of the backs, in particular number 15 Craig Gilroy, centres Brendan Macken and Eoin Griffin and half backs JJ Hanrahan and Luke McGrath.

A comprehensive win should be a given, but Kiss, McFarland and others will be more impressed by the progress of individuals, whom they will see as candidates to challenge for places in next year’s World Cup squad.

EMERGING IRELAND: C Gilroy (Dungannon/Ulster), J Murphy (Young Munster/Munster, captain), B Macken (Blackrock/Leinster), E Griffin (Galwegians/Connacht), M Allen (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), JJ Hanrahan (UL Bohemians/Munster), L McGrath (UCD/Leinster), J Ryan (Cork Constitution/Munster), B Byrne (Clontarf/Leinster), R Lutton (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster), M Kearney (Clontarf/Connacht), B Holland (Cork Constitution/Ulster), T O’Donnell (UL Bohemians/Munster), S Dougall (Dolphin/ Munster), P Butler (Shannon/Munster)

Replacements: J Tracy (UCD/Leinster), C Black (Malone/Ulster), D Foley (UL Bohemians/Munster), D Ryan (Lansdowne/Leinster), P Marshall (Ballymena/Ulster), I Keatley (Young Munster/Munster), A Conway (Blackrock College/Munster).

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