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Reddan Ready For Series Lift-Off

Reddan Ready For Series Lift-Off

Scrum half Eoin Reddan has been buoyed by how well Ireland’s preparations for the GUINNESS Series have gone so far, as they gear up to face the Southern Hemisphere trio of Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.

With Joe Schmidt entering his first match week as Ireland head coach, Eoin Reddan feels that the preparations made have Ireland in the best place possible to beat Australia and New Zealand after this weekend’s opening clash with Samoa.

But the Leinster scrum half is expecting to come up against a reinvigorated Australia team after their defeat at the hands of England.

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“We are in our best possible situation that we can do that (beat the Wallabies and All Blacks), but I’m not sure the result on Saturday is going to help us at all to be honest,” said Reddan.

“I can imagine the Aussie dressing room this morning and what they are talking about for the rest of their tour and the All Blacks don’t need any mention either. Of course, Samoa this week is going to shape a lot of what happens.

“This is the biggest game because it is the first one and I suppose everyone is waiting to see what happens. There is that level of expectation there within the squad as well.

“The only difference is we probably know we are up against a tougher team than you guys (the media) think. That is just the reality we have to deal with.”

But while Ireland have yet to beat the All Blacks, Reddan feels that the performances over the three Tests will prove more important than results in determining the initial progress of the squad under Schmidt.

“I think it is more about performance. I think we need to implement what we are doing in training. It sounds very clichéd but if you want to win something in the long run, you have to get better every week and it is your performance that has to improve.

“If you play worse but win, you sneak a few games, it will come back to bite you eventually. The emphasis for us, before we broke (up from camp in the last month), even though Joe wasn’t with the squad he gave us things that were easily identifiable – your carries, your cleanouts, were you straight, how hard did you fight on the ground with the ball.

“That means over that three or four weeks we were back at our provinces or clubs you are still working on what is very relevant to what you are doing here (in the Irish camp).

“Even though Joe didn’t have hands-on communication every week, if you want pick up the phone and get feedback, but you were able to watch the game back yourself and see were you doing what was asked of you.

“They are the kind of things that if you improve on over the next 12 months, that is where you get the big, big games. The biggest thing for us is performance and our attention to detail, how we train and how we bring it onto the pitch.

“Obviously that gives you the best chance of winning. At the end of the three weeks you see what results you’ve got but we would be a lot more frustrated if we were getting worse as opposed to not winning games.”

These upcoming Tests are important for Ireland and Schmidt as he builds towards his first Six Nations campaign and beyond.

The bigger picture for Schmidt is the Six Nations and the 2015 World Cup, but Reddan knows no matter how good they are going in training, it does not guarantee results.

Having played under Schmidt at Leinster for three seasons, the Limerick man knew what was in store for the Ireland squad and knows that the New Zealander has a long-term plan.

“I was just saying to Mick (Kearney, our team manager) that everyone is enjoying training and we are doing really well in training but it doesn’t really guarantee you anything,” explained the 50-times capped half-back.

“I think while it is important that we do well, Joe has always harped on about performance and he has certainly got things he will want us to do over the next few weeks and I know we won’t get away without doing (them).

“I know we will be building, regardless of results, to the future anyway. He always has a long-term plan anyway. There will be a massive emphasis on performance and certain things he is looking for that he will want to see improve.

“He knows in the long run if those things improve, in time we will be a very tough side to beat. Hopefully that happens very quickly but you have no guarantee. You can only put yourself in the best position for that to happen.”

While the Wallabies and the All Blacks are the main points of conversation, Reddan believes the first hurdle against Samoa next Saturday is not going to prove as easy as some may anticipate.

Looking back at the Samoans’ 26-19 victory over Wales at the Millennium Stadium last November, Reddan feels that the South Sea Islanders should not be underestimated.

“We have three very tough games. Samoa are ranked seventh in the world and have had massive victories last year against Italy, Scotland and Wales. We know what we are up against this week.

“It is a tough game because it is the kind of one where within a squad you know what you are up against. Outside the squad, people normally don’t know what you are up against, so expectations can be very high and there is a bit of a gap of what is expected and what is a reality.

“We know they are all challenges we have to deal with this week and I think we won’t be looking past this week because of that.

“Samoa scored after a minute and 52 seconds last year against Wales. There was no doubt about what they had come to do. I mean from the kick-off they turned the ball over and all-out attack for two minutes and scored in the corner.

“That is what we will be up against this week. They are going to come out very strong and very fast and we will have to do the same.”

Keith Earls has tendonitis of the knee and has been ruled out of contention for the Samoa game. But in general, the injuries in the Irish camp are clearing according to team manager Michael Kearney.

“Keith is continuing with his rehab for patellar tendonitis this week and he won’t be available for selection. Cian Healy has recovered well and will train fully this afternoon. Paul O’Connell has made good progress and has met all his markers, to date,” explained Kearney.

“He’s expected to train fully tomorrow. Sean O’Brien has also made good progress and will train fully tomorrow.

“All the other injury concerns from last week, Rory Best, Declan Fitzpatrick and Mike Ross, have fully recovered. Brian (O’Driscoll) was flying last week and is in great form. He is fit and available for selection.”

Kearney also discussed Jonathan Sexton’s fitness, with the out-half reportedly suffering ‘a stiff hip’ in the warm-up before Racing Metro 92’s Top 14 loss to Biarritz Olympique on Saturday.

“Johnny is fine. He did some kicking practice with (kicking coach) David Alred last Wednesday. I think he did about two hours.

“He had a slight bit of tightness but nothing at all that is going to keep him out of training this week. He’s fine. He is good to go. Joe alluded to that last week. Johnny came in last night and was in good form.

“Joe asked him how he was and he asked Joe what the opposite to ‘flat’ was. He’s quite bubbly and is certainly under consideration for this week,” added Kearney.