Alan Quinlan was on Monday’s OTB AM to talk about the start of Ireland’s pre-season for the Rugby World Cup.
While the tournament is still three months away, the 44-man Ireland squad gather today at Carton House for their first day of preparation for the World Cup.
While the first couple of weeks will most likely be strength and fitness training, Quinlan felt that it wouldn’t take long before things started to go up a notch.
“It’ll be intense. That’s exactly the environment you want, you want no one slacking off and thinking that they’re bulletproof and that they’re on that plane.
“First and foremost, any name that’s down on that list, they just want to make sure that their name is called out for that World Cup squad.
“Obviously Joe [Schmidt] will pick players who have performed in the last number of years but there could be one or two that might get a bit of a surprise and they’re the ones that probably have got to deliver over the pre-season.
While Best will almost certainly captain the side in Japan, Quinlan felt that it was vital that everyone, including Best, gets a solid pre-season in.
“I think Rory Best has to train well over the summer and look sharp. Rory works incredibly hard, I don’t think he’ll mind me saying it,” Quinlan said.
It’s only been three weeks since the Pro14 season came to a close with Leinster beating Glasgow, so many of the players in the squad have had little time off. However, Quinlan believed the players can still use the pre-season as a time to recover mentally.
“Pre-season is also a great time to psychologically clear out the baggage and bring in the excitement and the intrigue of what’s ahead.
“It’s not easy to completely get rid of it because it’ll be in the back of their minds but the more you train well… you start to build that bit of belief and confidence,” Quinlan explained.
Ireland play their first World Cup warm-up match against Italy in the Aviva Stadium on the 10th of June. They then play England in London and Wales home and away before heading off to Japan.
Schmidt will hope his side come through those matches with no major injuries, with Dan Leavy and Sean O’Brien two big names already ruled out of the showpiece tournament.