Drained Canadians face tall order

Five days. It may be enough to flush the lactic acid from their legs, but Canada will find it harder to rinse the pain of that defeat to Italy last Saturday from their minds as they back up against France in Milton Keynes on Thursday.

Head coach Kieran Crowley admitted that his team were “shattered” after that five-point loss in Leeds and he reiterated yesterday what everyone already knew, that his team should have beaten the Azzurri, while attempting to gee up the troops for the French.

“It’s always a big drain on them,” Crowley said of the loss. “Our role is to keep things fresh, keep things up. You have that big disappointment, but that’s part of rugby.

"You have got to put that behind you and it’s a measure of how you stand up in the next one.”

Crowley’s hopes of claiming a tier-one scalp aren’t helped by the tight turnaround imposed on them, nor by the news that out-half Connor Braid has left the squad after having his jaw broken in the early stages against Italy.

Pat Parfrey, who has flown in from home to replace him, is the son of the Cork-born Dr Pat Parfrey who earned one cap for Ireland against New Zealand in 1974 before emigrating to Canada and coaching the national team at the 1999 Rugby World Cup.

A Canadian win would have done Ireland no harm in Pool D last weekend, nor a tournament in which the minnows have been more competitive than ever, but they are unlikely to mine a victory against a French team that will be close to its strongest.

“We wouldn’t be here if we didn’t think we were able to (win),” said Crowley.

“We go out there to win games and we will do that. Obviously France are hot, hot favourites.

“They deserve to be, they are one of the better teams in the competition.”

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