Canada coach Kieran Crowley has warned Ireland to expect a stern physical challenge in tomorrow’s opening autumn Test.
The Canucks will start the match at Thomond Park as massive underdogs – with the hosts expected to run riot, buoyed by the arrival of former Munster head coach Declan Kidney who takes charge for the first time at his old stomping ground.
Kidney has selected an exciting back line, including prolific young full-back Keith Earls – but with the wet weather in Limerick set to limit both teams’ ability to play running rugby, a game of tactical kicking and forward grunt appears to be on the cards.
If it comes down to a battle of muscle and determination, Crowley believes his men can cope with anything.
“The players will do anything you ask them to. You ask them to run through a brick wall, and they will do it,” he said.
“The team I have selected are the best team for this particular game, so we are pretty happy where we are at.”
Ireland will hardly have been left quaking in their boots by the Canucks’ narrow 21-13 victory over Portugal in Lisbon last weekend.
However, that result was achieved with a largely second-choice XV – featuring few of the Canadians’ Europe-based players.
Now that star men such as Glasgow Warriors prop Kevin Tkachuk and goal-kicking Bedford Blues full-back James Pritchard are back, they are sure to be a more dangerous proposition.
Despite having little time in which to forge a competitive team, Crowley has been happy with his preparations this week.
“It’s all about integrating the guys with the guys from England and France and getting them into the systems and what the options are,” he said.
“The first couple of days have been all about that – and they are getting into it, which is good.
“They are able to adapt because they are top-class players, and so they have to adapt day to day.”