Kearney and McGrath join up with Ireland squad
Ireland back in Carton House as they prepare to take on England
Leinster’s Rob Kearney has joined up with the Ireland squad. Photograph: Ryan Byrne/Inpho
An Ireland squad of 38 players will take to the pitch at Carton House to prepare for Saturdays’ opening Six Nations championship match against England at the Aviva stadium (4.45pm).
Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath, who featured in Leinster’s win over the Scarlets at the RDS last weekend, have rejoined the national squad as have number eight Jack Conan and Andrew Conway, who were rehabilitating injuries with their respective provinces and didn’t travel to the Portugal training camp last week.
Leinster wing Adam Byrne and Connacht secondrow Quinn Roux have remained with the panel but the injured duo, Tadhg Beirne and Iain Henderson are absentees. It was confirmed that all players will train this afternoon.
Keith Earls explained that Ireland’s four-day training camp last week allowed the squad to recalibrate and fine tune ahead of their Six Nations defence. “It was great to get a bit of sun on the bones, take some natural Vitamin D rather than taking supplements.
“The facilities in the campus were incredible so it was good. The lads were excited to be back together and we put a good week down.
“The first time getting together is always a bit scrappy but we started sharp and we’ve ironed out a few things. The plan was to get ahead of schedule so we can hit the ground running this (Monday) afternoon when we go out. We’ve done that; we’re all over our detail.
“We just had a gym session there, so we’re itching to get on the field and hit the ground running into a massive week.”
England coach Eddie Jones has been typically vocal on a number of areas where he feels his side will look to challenge Ireland and one of those touches on the physical side of the game. Earls smiled: “Every game we play in is brutal and physical because it’s 15 men trying to kill another 15 men within the rules of the game.
“Yeah, I wouldn’t get too bogged down in it. I’d obviously expect a game like that to be brutal, brutally physical. So, it’s nothing new; on the field, we always know it’s going to be brutal.”
A priority for Ireland in their preparation work this week is to address a number of issues that surfaced during matches in the November series. Earls explained: “Things are always analysed. It’s amazing when you look at it the small margins that will win you a game. Even though we’ve had a good November, we had a slow start against Argentina where we made a couple of mistakes.
“We’re making sure we get the detail right so we can have a fast start and I suppose so the English don’t catch us on the hop.”
England finished fifth in last season’s Six Nations but Earls maintained that the Ireland expect their opponents on Saturday to produce a ferocious challenge. He also explained that the primary focus for Ireland is within, prioritising their own performance.
“We have been on a good roll, but we will never get too carried away with ourselves; we still have lots to work on. We had a lot of mistakes in November. We are trying to build towards a perfect performance, which is probably impossible but we build towards it. Hopefully that will be enough to get us the result.”