After finally hammering home the message that no one beats Ireland 27 times and gets away with it, eyes now shift back home to the Aviva stadium for a slightly different challenge. Riding the euphoria of a maiden victory over the All Blacks, Ireland need to refocus and concentrate on this game against the Canadians. They should not be complacent, Canada are more than capable of causing Ireland problems. History is not on there side however, the two sides have met 7 times with Ireland winning 6 of them, and drawing once back in 2000.
Aside from the obvious morale boost beating New Zealand will have brought to the Irish camp, Ireland will welcome several key players back into the fold. The back row has now got a frightening level of strength in depth, with CJ Stander, Sean O Brien, Peter O’Mahony Jamie Heaslip and Donnacha Ryan will all be vying for a place in Joe Schmidt’s starting XV. Paddy Jackson has also joined the squad for the Canada game, which gives Ireland options at fly-half along with veteran Jonny Sexton and Joey Carberry, who kicked an important penalty for Ireland at the end of their game last weekend. Furlong will come in to replace the unfortunately injured Jordi Murphy at prop. Ireland will be looking to play with the same intensity that saw them score forty points against the All Blacks. Their kick and chase game was excellent at the weekend, with Simon Zebo particularly impressive. As usual, they will look to Conor Murray and Sexton (or Jackson should he get the nod) to organize and weave the team together. They will have confidence bursting through them, and it will be difficult for the Canadians to combat this
By contrast, Canada will be going to be without some of their key men. Jamie Cudmore, Jebb Sinclair, and both Mackenzie brothers are out, although D.T.H van der Merwe is fit to play – good news for the Canadians as van der Merwe is a genuinely world class player and is capable of producing magic against any team in the world. Canada will be looking to build on positive if somewhat disappointing results over the past few months. They were close in their games against both Japan and Italy, and have developed a positive and imaginative style of play. What they need, is to be more clinical from try-scoring positions, something that cost them in their summer games. Should they hit their stride, there is no reason why the Canadian team cannot turn this encounter on Saturday evening into a competitive one.
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