Tadhg Beirne isn’t about to start fretting over Typhoon Hagibis and its progress through the Pacific. And he gives the impression of a player who can’t see the point in second-guessing what it is that referees may or may not want from him at the breakdown either.
The Munster forward was only minutes into his World Cup debut, against Scotland in Yokohama, when Wayne Barnes consigned him to 10 minutes in the bin for an attempted poach that caught the official’s eye for all the wrong reasons.
Ireland were 27-3 to the good at the time and home and hosed but the look of anguish on Beirne’s face beneath the blue scrum cap was all too clear as Barnes pointed to the touchline. You could argue it was harsh but those are occupational hazards for players who operate in one of the trickiest environments in international sport.
Beirne resurrected his career at Scarlets after leaving Leinster, largely through his ability as a jackal. His numbers were ridiculous in the PRO14 and they earned him a move home, to Munster, and test recognition. So he isn’t about to start treading lightly around rucks due to one costly decision.
“Not at all. I was probably silly when I looked back on it. I probably could have taken my hands ... I thought I was on the ball straight away but my right hand wasn’t on it and I was in there for quite a while. I probably have to be a bit smarter.
If I hadn’t gotten it at that stage, it probably would have been cleverer to let it go. But it definitely won’t stop me going after the ball again if the opportunity arises.
Beirne gave away a penalty soon after his introduction against Japan as well but the general sense is of a player who is coming into some decent form at the right time. His performance from the off against Russia backs that up and he feels as much himself even if he describes his efforts so far as just “alright”.
He’s a handy man to have around at a World Cup. Though nominally a second row now, he has plenty of experience at six and he even spent a lengthy period of time playing No.8 at the Scarlets when John Barclay was out injured.
That’s the sort of versatility that is incalculable at the best of times and all the more so at a World Cup where a squad is limited to 31 and, in Ireland’s case at the moment, worn even thinner by injuries before the tournament and since arriving in Japan.
I’m always an option at six and Joe (Schmidt) knows that. I’ve been in and out of six all through training since I got here, so I am comfortable in that role if I am called upon. I’d just be looking to get on the field.
He is still at the foothills of his international career with 11 caps but he is working a niche for himself in this Irish set-up as time goes on, even if the weekend just passed was a welcome chance to press pause on that ascent and relax.
Saturday was spent wandering the streets of Fukuoka and indulging in the usual rugby player’s appetite for food and coffee. Sunday was an opportunity to spend time with his parents as they took in the shrines of Hakata and the Fukuoka Tower.
Not for him the idea of grabbing a chair and watching the weekend’s games, enticing as they were. It was yesterday before he sat down and took in Samoa’s somewhat surprising performance against Japan at the City of Toyota Stadium.
“They’re a physical side. If you give them a chance, they can play so we have to be careful and well prepared for that.”
Typhoons aside, the weather is changing here in Japan. The humidity levels dropped considerably in the course of the last five days or so before rising slightly again yesterday just as the Irish team trained half-an-hour down the road from the team hotel.
And, if the five games over the weekend told us anything then it is the fact that the moisture on the ball and the field itself continues to be an issue for the best teams in the world.
That’s something to ponder for everyone, not least the likes of Beirne who can be partial to an offload, even if Ireland’s are unlikely to experience conditions quite as discomfiting as those they found in Kobe’s enclosed arena last week, or in Shizuoka six days before.
“The conditions in Kobe were particularly sweaty and the ball was quite slippy,” said Beirne, “so you kind of have to look after the ball first, which probably stops quick passing and all that stuff.”
Learn, adapt and move on. What else can he do?