Ireland ‘A’ coach Michael Bradley says that the encounter on Friday night with England Saxons will offer his players a chance to improve on their November defeat to Australia’s ‘A’ team.
“We’re disappointed with our last ‘A’ match. It was a difficult game to play. We lost by a score in the last few minutes but both sides didn’t play well. Australia didn’t play well and we didn’t play well and I think that all 30 players would’ve been disappointed with few exceptions,” said Bradley.
The Ireland ‘A’ squad met up at the La Mon Hotel outside Belfast on Wednesday afternoon, but such a short lead-in has left very little time for preparation.
“We’re focusing more on set pieces, getting a good run at lineouts because from the match against Australia, earlier in the season, the two hookers have changed – Frankie Sheahan is in for John Fogarty – and there are a lot of changes in other areas of the pitch as well.
“From that point of view, we’d like to get some set pieces going and then see what happens on the night,” he told IrishRugby.ie.
Bradley has no worries about the short lead-in.
“They’re all professional players. They understand the job in hand and they won’t need any extra motivation. A lot of them will have already played with each other, having come through the underage systems together, and so will be familiar with each other already.
“Time-wise we’re very limited. The squad got together on Wednesday, captain’s run on Thursday and the match on Friday. What we’re doing is purely organisational, with no intensity in the sessions. A lot of the lads know each other and are familiar with each other having played together due to the structure within the provinces and at underage level, so we don’t see any difficulty there.”
Bradley is looking forward to a game in which they will bid to repeat their Churchill Cup win over the Saxons, and he believes the Ravenhill atmosphere will be a big advantage to his team.
“The Ulster fans are very passionate and they’ll always get behind their team. The venue itself has been attributed with several great Ulster wins over the years and hopefully it’ll work for us as well. We’ll hopefully give the fans something to cheer about,” he added.
– The Ireland ‘A’ v England Saxons clash is being televised live on both BBC 2 Northern Ireland and RTE Two (coverage begins on both channels at 7.30pm). Kick-off at Ravenhill is at 7.45pm –