Voices of experience: Advice and predictions from Irish players


David Quinlan (former Leinster, Northampton Saints, Ireland centre) 1. Lessons from NZ tour:The key lesson must be that anything less than 100 per cent intensity will not suffice. At our best we are a match for anyone but with even the slightest drop off in focus we can be made to look pretty ordinary. The difference between the second and third Tests in New Zealand cannot be entirely attributed to the improvement of the All Blacks.

2. Is the result the only thing that matters?

I don’t think so. We need to see the next generation of players and leaders emerge. We also need to see a team playing with real cohesion and direction and a clear idea of the game it’s trying to play.

With these objectives achieved, we can look to build against Fiji and Argentina and gain some real momentum ahead of the Six Nations.

3. What are the key areas for Ireland?

The Murray/Sexton combination will obviously be important in controlling affairs and winning the tactical battle but it’s a massive day for the back five in our pack.

They’re an untested unit

and will need to match the physicality of their opposite numbers. Our frontrow should be able to hold its own, so this is where the game will be won and lost.

4. Who will win and why?

Ireland. It’s difficult to adduce any convincing evidence in support of such a belief, particularly given the absence of a number of our leading lights, but I just think we might nick this one.

South Africa are missing some of their bigger names too and we just have so many guys with so much to play for.

Bob Casey (former Leinster, London Irish and Ireland secondrow)

1 What lessons must Ireland absorb from the recent summer tour?

That consistency of performance is crucial to getting results. Any team is capable of getting up for a match in a one-off context but what’s been conspicuously lacking for Ireland in recent times is the ability to sustain those high levels. Injuries to key players haven’t helped but the summer demonstrated there is a marked discrepancy in quality.

2 Is the result the only thing that matters on Saturday?

Yes, definitely. If Declan Kidney was sending out a young, developmental side that reflected a desire to build for the future then the parameters would be different. However, Ireland are chasing world ranking points and looking for momentum to sustain them through a three-game series.

3 What are the key areas for Ireland?

The word emanating from the Springbok camp is they’ll go after Ireland in the scrum, trying to destabilise one of the central attacking platforms.

Paul O’Connell’s absence is a major blow but Ireland still need to target a Springbok lineout missing the peerless Victor Matfield and Juan Smith.

It’ll be a good test for Donnacha Ryan, Ireland’s lineout leader.

4 Who will win and why?

South Africa. Ireland are missing too many key players. When South Africa won here in 2010 I remember talking to Faan Rautenbach and he told me the players were sick and tired of not only losing to Ireland in Dublin but being physically dominated. They vowed not to let that happen again. They are short too but they have more depth.

Killian Keane (former Garryowen, Munster and Ireland centre)

1 What lessons must Ireland absorb from the recent summer tour?

Never ever again agree to play New Zealand three times in a row. The second Test showed that this Irish side can compete with the best team in the world.

2 Is the result the only thing that matters on Saturday?

In international rugby the result is always the most important factor. These players know that only by focusing on the performance will it lead to achieving the desired result. Ireland have a coach in Declan Kidney who is very good at taking pressure off his players.

3 What are the key areas for Ireland?

They need to be ultra-physical. South Africa are very strong in the fundamental aspects of the sport. Ireland will need to be solid on the basics and also very competitive at the breakdown.

The Irish kicking game has to be effective. The Springboks will do a lot of kicking and then invite Ireland to try and run the ball back.

4 Who will win and why?

Ireland. They have a good record at this time of the year against South Africa, winning three of the last four contests in Dublin.

While the Irish side is missing some outstanding players so too are the Springboks and the visitors will in particular miss Bismarck du Plessis for his leadership and Francois Steyn for his kicking.

To realise that goal, Ireland need to be very physical and introduce a smart kicking game.

Reggie Corrigan (former Greystones, Leinster and Ireland prop)

1 What lessons must Ireland absorb from the recent summer tour?

We lack depth in terms of quality when certain front-line players are missing. We need to provide a competitive structure that allows young players to develop quicker and be ready to step-in at Test level.

That outlet, the quality game time at a high level, is so important so it’s not a question of throwing players in at the deep end when it comes to Test rugby.

2 Is the result the only thing that matters on Saturday?

No. It’s about removing the elephant (the 60-point hiding in Hamilton) from the room. It has to be about the performance. Ireland cannot afford to ship a 20-point beating here.

It’ll just crank up the pressure on the management. The injuries, while a factor, can not be used as an excuse.

3 What are the key areas for Ireland

The set-pieces of scrum and lineout: they have to be on the money from an Irish perspective. The midfield partnership of Gordon D’Arcy and Keith Earls will have to pose an attacking threat.

If they can break the gain-line then Ireland can be creative but if they’re shut down and there’s no penetration, it’s going to be a long, hard day.

4 Who will win and why?

South Africa. It’s my head ruling my heart. I think Ireland have too big a hill to climb in performance terms.

We are lacking experience in key areas and the Springboks have a little more depth in quality to offset the players they are missing.

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