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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Easterby Confident Ahead Of “Biggest Match In A Long Time”

Easterby Confident Ahead Of “Biggest Match In A Long Time”

Blindside flanker Simon Easterby is backing Ireland to put in a big performance against France in Saint Denis on Friday on a night when either side’s World Cup dreams could be left in tatters.

Given their 13-try demolition of Namibia last weekend and their winning run against the Irish over the past four years, France are heavy favourites to beat Eddie O’Sullivan’s men on Friday night – they are priced at 1/7 to win by some bookmakers.

But Easterby, who has played seven times against France since making his Test debut in 2000, feels that if Ireland play to their capabilities, they could one of the biggest shocks in World Cup history by end the hosts’ campaign just two weeks into the tournament.

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“We know we’ve got to perform better than we have been, but we also know we’re capable of doing exactly that. It’s our biggest Test match for a long time and we don’t need any extra motivation,” said Easterby, who was in the Irish team that lost to France at Croke Park last February.

“We’ve been written off by the press but hopefully we’ll see a good performance on Friday.”

The Irish pack drew encouragement from how they kept Georgia out in the dying minutes of last Saturday’s 14-10 win as the eastern Europeans laid siege to their try line.

Reflecting on how the forwards performed against Georgia, Easterby said: “I thought the pack performed well against a strong Georgian side. They are a very physical team.

“Our scrum was okay, the lineout was very good. Sure, they managed to get the rolling maul going but they didn’t score a try from that. We’re happy with the way we played against Georgia. When the Georgians pull that jersey on they play pretty well.

“Certainly we have some improvement to make and hopefully we’ll see that against France.”

The Llanelli captain also reckons the decision to play Eoin Reddan at scrum half instead of the experienced Peter Stringer could see Ireland outfox the French as they will have seen little of Wasps star Reddan, particularly on the international stage.

“Eoin Reddan deserves his chance because he has been playing well for Wasps. He will add a different dimension to what Peter brings. He has played for Ireland before so I don’t think it’s a risk,” admitted Easterby.

“It’s not an issue. France haven’t seen as much of Eoin as they have of Peter and that may work in our favour. It will put doubt in their minds over what he will bring to the game.”