The Ireland squad are away in Portugal this weekend playing in a warm-up tournament as they finalise their preparations for next week’s Rugby World Cup Sevens in Dubai. IrishRugby.ie caught up with squad member James Coughlan to get his thoughts on the Sevens game and Ireland’s World Cup chances.
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Munster back rower James Coughlan is one of three players in Ireland’s 12-man Rugby World Cup Sevens squad who featured for the side during last year’s qualification tournaments.
The World Cup will take place in Dubai next week from March 5 to 7 and Coughlan says Ireland have the potential to cause a few shocks.
“It’s crucial to have that much experience in the squad, with myself, Kieran (Campbell) and Tuts (Brian Tuohy) back from last year,” he said.
“We worked very hard over the period we were together. Fergal (O’Callaghan), our conditioning coach, head coach Jon (Skurr) and manager Hugh (McCaughey) put in a huge amount of effort with us.
“Going out to Dubai, we’re quietly confident. It’s a great showcase for guys, especially the younger lads in the squad.
“We just need to go out there and play the rugby tthat we know we’re capable of and hopefully we’ll get a result or two.”
Coughlan’s Munster team-mate Brian Carney is one of the most experienced players in the Irish panel and he is delighted to have the Ireland-capped winger on board.
“We were slagging him, saying he was going to be a question on ‘A Question Of Sport’ – he’s the one guy who has played for Great Britain, went to a World Cup with Ireland and now played Sevens as well.
“Obviously having a guy like Brian in the squad is massive, just from his rugby league experience alone with the bigger pitch and the fewer players.
“His defensive structure and talk is fantastic. Having a guy of that quality in the team is going to improve you.”
Dolphin clubman Coughlan feels that Sevens has improved his performance in the 15-man game, particularly from a fitness point of view.
“It improves your passing, your speed and obviously it has an impact on your conditioning.
“Hopefully it’s not as hot in Dubai as it has been for the last while but it’s been great (playing for Ireland Sevens). I felt it’s been good for my game and the lads would be the same.
“Sevens can be constant – you mightn’t have the ball for three or four minutes, which happened when we played Wales in Denmark.
“You get your lungs, it’s different. It’s not as physical tiring (as 15-a-side). Your shoulders aren’t hanging off you after a game but your legs and lungs will be. It’s like you find your water legs!”