No excuses for Schmidt's Ireland as they aim to move up a gear for Pumas

Posted by On 11:45 PM

No excuses for Schmidt's Ireland as they aim to move up a gear for Pumas

YESTERDAY WAS A slightly strange one for Ireland.

26 of Joe Schmidt’s squad arrived into Dublin Airport early in the morning, the first of two groups landing in from Chicago at 6am, the second following a few hours later.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt returned home with some of his players at 6am yesterday.

After bussing to their team base at Carton House in County Kildare, some players opted for a quick snooze before the hard work began again in the afternoon.

A review of the win over Italy, a preview of the Argentina team that Ireland face on Saturday in Dublin, individual analysis, as well as the usual recovery protocols in-between each of those tasks.

Ireland’s official schedule ended at 7pm yesterday evening but, nonetheless, it must have been a challenge to get through it all after a seven-hour transatlantic flight, particularly one that was disrupted by heavy turbulence.

“It is a challenge,” said centre Garry Ringrose of Ireland’s return home from the US. “I think that motivates everyone that little bit more. It would be easy to start pulling out excuses.

“Everyone knows they are going to have to raise it to another level. It’s just about banking the detail as early as possible. You don’t necessarily have to be out on the pitch.

“It will be really important for guys to be in looking at the laptops at opposition and then learning from the game on Saturday, even guys that weren’t playing, about how we can be better.

“That means when Tuesday rolls around, Wednesday, Thursday, that we can hit the ground running.”

It does help Ireland that many players in their November Tests squad didn’t travel to the US.

A handful of players were in South Africa with their provinces, but senior figures such as Rory Best, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Peter O’Mahony had the feet up over the weekend, already well into Argentina mode.

Johnny Sexton kicks a penalty Johnny Sexton will be back in the 10 shirt this weekend.

They are certain to be the key drivers on their returns to the fray for Ireland this week, with Joe Schmidt’s squad keen to step things up a gear or two after their eight-try win against Italy in Soldier Field.

“I think it [Ireland's performance level] probably has to come up a notch,” said Ringrose. “I think both teams on Saturday were probably guilty of a few mistakes that you can’t afford to make against a team like Argentina.

“So, yeah, I’d say everyone would need to step up that little bit and I think as the first game of the series it was always going to be the case, and the w eek that was in it. We’ll definitely be taking learnings from that and improving on it.”

While many rugby supporters and media are already beginning to focus on the visit of the All Blacks to Dublin in two weekends’ time, Ireland have been keen to stress the threat posed by the Pumas on Saturday.

Head coach Schmidt lauded several of their stars while he was in Chicago and Ringrose is wary of what the Argentinian backs can do.

“Individually they are very strong,” said the Leinster centre. “Certainly across the back line they have guys that can beat you one-on-one any day of the week so that will be a huge challenge, the individual battles and defensively because they are so good in attack.

“Their shape is improving year on year. You can see that they are getting to the edge more effectively and they are pretty good at winning the gainline and if you don’t match them up front it can be a long day â€" as they have shown in games just gone.

“It can be a combination of matching them in the physical battle that we know they will bring as well as being prepared for the kind of attacking flow out wide that they have.”

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