November 24, 2010 | In: Articles

Ireland defend schedule

Ireland manager Paul McNaughton believes that his side’s tough autumn schedule has served as good preparation for next year’s World Cup.

Having already faced South Africa, Samoa and New Zealand, Ireland complete their November campaign with a clash against Argentina on Sunday.

They have several injury worries ahead of the match and it is clear that the four-Test schedule has taken its toll on the squad.

But although McNaughton admits that the schedule has not been ideal, he says that it has prepared them well for what is likely to be a gruelling World Cup campaign in New Zealand.

“This has been a tough autumn because it’s the first time we’ve had four games,” he said.

“The four games were put together to have the extra match against South Africa to mark the opening of the Aviva Stadium.

“I don’t think the long-term plan is to have four games in November, or if there is a fourth game it will be an ‘A’ match against a tier-two nation.

“We haven’t had time to analyse whether we should play four games again. It’s been a long five weeks with four matches against very physical opposition.

“South Africa, Samoa, New Zealand and Argentina, they don’t come more physical than that.

“We’ll be doing something similar in the World Cup. We’ll have a squad of 30 and we won’t be able to call in guys willy nilly to help us out.

“We’ll have to deal with five or six injuries if we get them without calling in reinforcements, so in terms of preparing for the World Cup next year the autumn has been very helpful.”

Ireland were forced to defend for long periods against the All Blacks last weekend, completing 130 tackles to their opponents’ 75, but McNaughton is not convinced that was a direct contribution to the injury toll.

McNaughton added: “I don’t have any great theories on the injury count, it’s coincidental. It was a fairly physical game and we made as many tackles in the first half as there would be in a normal game.

“That doesn’t help the injury toll. It’s just unfortunate. We have an eight-day turnaround so we can take our time.”

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