Joey Miles believes three matches against lower level opponents in Bucharest will pay dividends for Ireland in the long run.
The Emerging Ireland manager has no doubt that games against Russia, Uruguay and Romania in the IRB Nations Cup signal a move forwards and pointed out yesterday that five of last year’s touring team, in a similar competition in Tblisi, went on to win full international honours.
Already, a number of the team named yesterday to take on Russia at the Stade National Arcul de Triumf, have worn the green jersey at full level but others, such as wing Andrew Conway, centre Eoin Griffin, front row forwards Colum Black, Niall Annett, Dave Foley, Mick Kearney and new Munster number eight Robin Copeland are battling to get that recognition.
Miles has no doubts that it will be more than just an interesting exercise over the coming days.
“This is a serious tour and the national coaches will be represented at one of the games at least. In terms of the upcoming World Cup squad there are places up for grabs,” he said.
“In the past it might have been seen as a development tour of sorts but it is not the case this year, these guys are World Cup potential candidates. Five came through from last year and were in the Six Nations squad, we would hope that we would have similar numbers this year.”
The first game is against Russia today and Ireland have done a share of homework.
“We have got good footage on them because these particular teams play quite a bit. We have a fair idea of what we’re up against and these teams put a huge amount of emphasis of the physical side of the game. No doubt, we will be challenged in the physical sense and they also placed a lot of emphasis on their back row play, the breakdown and that.
“To beat them we’ve got to back ourselves. We’ve got a game plan which we will adhere to and we won’t go away from that unless we have to. Hopefully it will come down to our superior conditioning so that at the last quarter of the game it will become too much for the opposition.”
Emerging Ireland: J Murphy (Ireland), C Gilroy (Ulster), E Griffin (Connacht), S McCloskey (Ulster), A Conway (Munster), I Keatley (Munster), P Marshall (Ulster), C Black (Ulster), N Annett (Ulster), M Bent (Leinster), M Kearney (Connacht), D Foley (Munster), D Ryan (Leinster, captain), T O’Donnell (Munster), R Copeland (Munster).
Replacements: J Treacy (Leinster), J Ryan (Munster), B Holland (Munster), S Dougall (Munster), L McGrath, B Macken (Leinster) JJ Hanrahan (Munster).