O’Connell keen to see Ireland improve

Ireland (XV v Canada): R Kearney; D Kearney, J Payne, L Fitzgerald, K Earls; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, I Henderson, P O’Connell, P O’Mahony, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.


Ireland’s coach Joe Schmidt has called the opening match on Saturday vs. Canada as a potential “banana skin”.

Canada next face Italy in Leeds, while Ireland take on Romania and the Italians before returning to Cardiff on October. 11 for what is expected to be the pool decider against France.

“Ireland weren’t No. 2 in the world a couple of weeks back for nothing, and they got back on their horse”.

“Obviously today on the scoreboard we didn’t do that but if we had a bit more luck in the red zone, we could have been a bit closer”.

“But I think we got into a rhythm and once we got over that start we played some good rugby”.

“Our defense hasn’t been as good as it needs to be as yet”, he said.

The decision to select Fitzgerald out of position at 12 ahead of a natural inside centre raised eyebrows, but Schmidt insisted he needed to use all his resources during the pool stages.

“But as I’ve said, he’s a world-class player and it’s always great to play against world-class competition”.

Cudmore actually went on to protest his innocence, saying: “The ball squirted out, I don’t remember how”.

The major mistake came 17 minutes into the match and it came from captain Jamie Cudmore, who took an unnecessary foul near his own end line and was issued a yellow card, which sent him off and forced Canada to play a man short for 10 minutes.

Sean Cronin, Rob Kearney, and Jared Payne all dotted down in the final 16 minutes for Ireland, which had a troublesome buildup involving consecutive losses to Wales and England in the warm-ups. Penalty. Sin-bin.

“He will reflect on the game and the first wide pass he made looped into touch”, the New Zealander told reporters.

“It was the flawless opportunity, it was the right decision but he didn’t quite affect it accurately enough”.

“That’s the way he’s driven and I think that’s the way he drives the team which is a real bonus as well. Our scrum and lineout have been operating well, and those are areas that are really good access points for us in the game and ways to deny Canada access”, Schmidt said, warning that there is no talk of actually winning the World Cup.


Schmidt would surely have been happier if they’d been able to shut out Canada entirely, and while he was complimentary to the opposition in his post-match comments, this really doesn’t represent a true test of Ireland’s level. “They’re a combative side and hard to out-muscle”. Iain Henderson, who put in an excellent shift, soon crashed over – with support from his Ulster colleague Rory Best – for try number two.

GOOD TO GO Jamie Cudmore was'stuck between the World Cup and retirement before being told he was in good enough shape to lead Canada