'It won't faze the lads' - Ireland skills coach happy with team's form ahead of opener

Ireland kick off their Pool A campaign this weekend with centre Robbie Henshaw already ruled out through a hamstring injury

'It won't faze the lads' - Ireland skills coach happy with team's form ahead of opener

Neither Rob Kearney’s possible absence from the back three nor the forecast for heavy rain in Yokohama will knock Richie Murphy’s confidence that Ireland’s handling skills can cope with every situation in their World Cup opener against Scotland on Sunday.

Ireland kick off their Pool A campaign this weekend with centre Robbie Henshaw already ruled out through a hamstring injury and question marks over the fitness of both full-back Kearney (calf) and wing Earls (knee).

With Garry Ringrose poised to start at outside centre with Jordan Larmour and Andrew Conway in line to fill the back-three vacancies, should Earls or Kearney fail to pass fit, skills coach Murphy said the requisite skillset for a wet day under the high ball runs deep through the Ireland squad.

"Extremely confident,” Murphy declared when asked about the kicking battle against Scotland. “We picked 31 players that we feel can all do the job for us. If, for instance, Rob wasn't there, we'd be very happy with Jordan, he's got a lot of big-game experience. Bomber (Conway) has played back there as well, so if it is a case that Rob's not there, we'd be very happy with the guys.

“They understand the systems, they've been working in them for three-and-a-half years, Jordan since he's come into the squad. They should be very comfortable within the systems."

Ireland’s ambition to reach a first World Cup semi-final will rest on the form of experienced half-back pairing Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, both of whom work closely on their kicking in particular with Murphy, who likes the shape the players are in going into this campaign.

"Johnny's in really good form. Obviously, he's only had one game coming into the World Cup which is probably not exactly what he would have wanted. He would have wanted to play more. That's where he's at.

He's in really good shape physically, mentally very hungry, and he's looking forward to a massive World Cup, as all our players are. He's in a really good place.

"(Conor) picked up that knock earlier on in pre-season but he's bounced back really well. He looks sharp, his passing is good. There's a nice buzz around the two guys when they're training and they're leading within the group.

"I think the big thing is that everyone does their own role. Everyone understands what we're trying to achieve in each area. The two boys, as half-backs, they're the guys who move the team around the park. It's slightly extra responsibility but it won't faze the lads."

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