Rugby

Finn Russell has the potential to upset Ireland's best laid plans | Ronan O'Gara


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With talk of a prospective quarter-final clash against New Zealand or South Africa contributing to much of Ireland's pre-World Cup discussion, Ronan O'Gara has urged for greater consideration of the difficult early challenges Scotland and Japan will pose. 

In a week where Joe Schmidt confirmed the 31-man squad he will be taking to the Rugby World Cup, thoughts have turned more significantly toward the challenges Ireland will face in Japan.

Speaking on Tuesday's OTB AM, Cian Tracey suggested that certain selections Schmidt had made reflected a degree of concern on the New Zealander's behalf for a potential clash with the impressive Springboks.

"I feel that Joe Schmidt is looking at this decision with the Springboks in mind," noted Tracey of Schmidt's decision to omit Devin Toner from his four-man selection of second-row players, "he wants [the option of greater] power in the scrum."

Although Ronan O'Gara harbours certain expectations regarding Ireland's progression from the pool stages of the forthcoming tournament, the La Rochelle head coach is adamant that Ireland are in for a serious pair of challenges before any prospective quarter-final clash.

"The Scots will come in under the radar and they'll throw everything at that first game," suspected O'Gara on Wednesday's OTB AM, "it is a sticky game with the fact that you have Finn Russell at #10.

"On a fast pitch, he's a little bit of a maverick, and you can do all the planning that you want but I'm not too sure even he knows exactly what he will play and how he will play it."

The first of Ireland's pool matches, whatever manner of a result comes from that opening tie, the hosts Japan will await Schmidt's men immediately thereafter.

"People haven't even mentioned Japan," stressed O'Gara, "they are the home nation who have beaten South Africa in the last World Cup.

"I got it from being involved with Super Rugby that there is so much of an influence from southern hemisphere rugby in the Japanese culture.

"Most of the coaches there are from New Zealand, so from a rugby point of view, they'd have a lot of good ideas.

"The coaching team they have has been there now for a number of years and Tony Brown is a genius when it comes to creating attacking plays.

"So, Japan will be difficult too and they'll play a game that will challenge Ireland."

You can watch Ronan O'Gara's thoughts on Joe Schmidt's squad selection in its entirety here

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Irish Rugby Football Union Joe Schmidt Ronan O'Gara

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