Simon Easterby confident Ireland will select from a full hand for Tonga game

Rugby World Cup: Defence coach happy with how players came through tough conditions in Bordeaux

Andy Farrell and his assistants are optimistic that they will be able to select from a relatively clean bill of health according to defence coach Simon Easterby after Ireland came through their opening 82-8 World Cup pool win over Romania seemingly unscathed.

“I’d say we haven’t ruled anyone out for next week,” said Easterby in reference to Ireland’s second match against Tonga in Nantes next Saturday (kick-off 9pm French time/8pm Irish).

“We’ll certainly assess more people today and tomorrow. It’s usually the case that things are maybe flagged 24, 48 hours sometimes after a game as opposed to straight after the night of the game.

“As far as we are aware everyone came through pretty unscathed, so it was great in that respect, in terms of getting players game time in the heat, the conditions,” he added in reference to the 36 degree heat in which the game was played.


“We’ve played in the afternoon now, the rest of the matches will be at night so I guess we’ve gone a long way to producing a good performance in really tough conditions.”

Dan Sheehan, Dave Kilcoyne and Jack Conan were all ruled out of Ireland’s opening game and having been selected on the bench, Robbie Henshaw was withdrawn from the matchday squad in the Stade de Bordeaux after pulling up in Friday’s captain’s run with an unspecified injury, but the indications are that he will be available for the Tongan game.

“He’s one of a number of those guys that didn’t take part yesterday that we would expect to be ready for selection come tomorrow night. We’re hopeful that Robbie and others who haven’t taken part for whatever reason are available next week, and I think that’s credit to the guys who are conditioning the boys and also the medics. The way that they’ve worked over the last few weeks in particular, at the moment we’re in pretty good shape.”

Reflecting overall on the 12 tries to one win, which was an Irish record at the World Cup and the second biggest Irish winning margin ever after conceding a third-minute try, Easterby said: “Well, it was a good start I guess, in terms of the 80 minutes. I think first up, any World Cup match you want to get off to a good start.

“We obviously didn’t quite get that start we wanted considering the early try but certainly as the game went on we grew into the game and I think the second-half performance was right up there.

“We have to take into account what we were up against and the conditions, but we’re really pleased with the way we finished the game – not quite as much from my perspective the way we started,” he added wryly.

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley

Gerry Thornley is Rugby Correspondent of The Irish Times