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Mary Hannigan: Andrew Porter feels the heat in Bordeaux

Ireland need to go up a notch against Tonga; the history of rugby and GAA’s relationship; the race to be Derry manager

If you’re on the hunt for a quick weight-loss programme then you should consider playing 50 minutes of rugby in 37 degrees of heat, Andrew Porter shedding an entire 4kg when he did just that against Romania last Saturday. “That’s the hottest I have ever played in….. I was like a strawberry,” he tells Gerry Thornley.

Porter and Co’s sights are now set on Tonga, Ireland’s opponents in their second pool game which, mercifully, should be a cooler experience with its 8.0 kick-off.

For Gordon D’Arcy, it’s imperative that the performance level in that game goes up a notch or two from the display against Romania if Ireland are to go in to their meeting with South Africa on Saturday week in the best possible shape.

Gary Keegan is tasked with ensuring the players are ready, “from a mental perspective”, for the challenges ahead, the high-performance coach talking to Gerry about his work with the squad.


John O’Sullivan and Johnny Watterson, meanwhile, are in enemy territory this week, John infiltrating the Tonga camp to speak to their scrumhalf Sonatane Takulua while Johnny dropped by South Africa’s base in Toulon where he heard from former Irish international Felix Jones, now the Springbok attack coach.

As Seán Moran puts it, “Ireland’s place in rugby will be crystallised in the coming weeks – either as an enduringly sorrowful mystery or as a genuine power”. He reflects on the impact of the sport on the GAA, one he says “hasn’t been as great as may have been feared when rugby went professional 28 years ago”.

Also in Gaelic games, Gordon Manning looks at the contenders for the vacant Derry managerial position, Malachy O’Rourke “the standout candidate” for “one of the most attractive intercounty roles in the country right now”.

And in cricket, Nathan Johns brings us the strange tale of the controversial advertising at Ireland’s recent matches against India in Malahide, Cricket Ireland apologising for any offence caused by ads “for gambling companies accused of taking bets on children’s sport and promoting content of a sexual nature”. One of the companies whose branding was present in the ground “entices gamblers with topless croupiers”. Like you do.

TV watch: There are slim enough pickings in today’s schedule, although cricket and cycling fans are well served – Sky Sports have coverage of England’s one day international against New Zealand (from noon) and Eurosport bring us stage 17 of the Vuelta a España (1.30-5.0).