Ireland winger Craig Gilroy believes the key to continued success in the GUINNESS Series is getting the small details right, as they prepare for Sunday’s encounter with Georgia.
Having dispatched the Springboks, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has refocused the players on the task in hand, leaving nothing to chance as they gear up to face a team that pushed Ireland close (14-10) in the pool stages of the 2007 Rugby World Cup..
Craig Gilroy, who missed out on selection for the South Africa game, said the players and coaches have quickly got back down to business after defeating the world’s number 2 ranked side.
“Joe really brought us back down there. Obviously it was a fantastic win against the two-time World champions, but like the guys have been saying, we didn’t play to our best and have more to give,” he said.
“It was great to get that win, but we’ve put it to bed and the next task is Georgia and everyone’s been nailed on looking forward to this Sunday.”
Expanding on the pre-match analysis being done in camp, the 23-year-old explained: “There are player profiles for everyone we come up against. When we come into a game, we know our opposition inside out. We know their strengths, what they’re going to be good at and also weaknesses that we can exploit.
“It can be as simple as when we go into a profile, we know what player it is, his name is there and we can just watch footage put together. The guys we have in the video analysis are unbelievable, what they have put together for us.”
This meticulous attention to detail will see Gilroy look at every threat that he could face on the pitch, and not just his opposite number. The players have access to a video profile of each of the opposition players but the onus is on Schmidt’s charges to view them and make sure they are clued up.
“It’s good, yeah. We’ve all got the profiles and we watch clips of whoever. It could be in the league he has played in, or another international. It’s important to look at bits and pieces of everyone.
“You don’t know who you are going to be (coming up against). Obviously you have got your opposite number but on the pitch its almost free rein. You could be up against anyone.
“It’s monitored well. Joe does a good job in giving us what we need to know and at the same time putting an onus on us to do our own homework and it’s about getting the balance right and Joe does that well.”
After almost toppling New Zealand last November, the title-winning Six Nations campaign and beating South Africa last weekend, the ghosts of the 2013 Six Nations defeat to Italy are long forgotten.
However, that difficult day in Rome was the last time Gilroy played Test rugby for Ireland and he admitted it has been tough, at times, to wait for his next international cap.
“You just have to keep at it and keep the head on, keep working hard and eventually an opportunity will come around. If selected, I’ve really been looking forward to putting on the jersey again.
“(My last cap) was the end of the Six Nations in Rome, two seasons ago. After that I played once for the ‘A’ team (against England Saxons) and again I played in the Emerging Ireland tour (last June) which was a great experience and we did very well.
“Regardless of when the (last) game was, you put it to bed and look forward to what’s ahead. I’ve been longing to put on the senior jersey again.”
Gilroy scored a try on his Test debut against Argentina in November 2012 but due to injuries last season and a frustrating spell on the sidelines, he has added just four Ireland caps since then.
He regards this as a fresh start of sorts, adding: “I love the green jersey and playing in front of big crowds, bringing what I can give. Maybe that little bit of spark or something else.”
His recent displays with Ulster suggest he is back close to peak form, his trademark quick feet helping him run in classy tries against Zebre, Glasgow Warriors and Toulon.
Sunday’s opponents have a typically strong pack, the majority of which play in the Top 14 or Pro D2 in France, and Gilroy feels Ireland cannot afford to take anything for granted against a well-coached Georgian outfit.
He has been impressed by what he has seen of their right winger Irakli Machkhaneli, a veteran of three World Cup campaigns who boasts 72 caps and 23 tries.
“Georgia themselves have a huge pack, a huge contingent that plays in France and they’ve got some really dangerous guys in the backs.
“We really can’t take them lightly. We just want to get all our small details right, the bits and pieces that weren’t there against South Africa that we can improve on this week.
“Certainly we would have confidence in ourselves and in the back-line we will put out there but like I said, they’ve got a couple of real danger men out there. They’ve a winger, Machkhaneli, whose a 70-capper, a leading try scorer and he’s seriously quick. We can’t take them lightly,” he insisted.