Ireland face tough South African challenge

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell. Photo: Brendan Moran.

TRY as they may, the nation’s rugby correspondents have struggled to fire up enthusiasm for Ireland’s opening summer rugby test against South Africa this coming Saturday in Pretoria, 4pm.

Home coach Rassie Erasmus has been up to his usual pranks regarding the game, predicting that the Boks “are in the right frame of mind for the challenge ahead against the world’s number two-ranked team”.

Former Munster player Damian de Allende got his tuppence worth in by questioning the Irish “lack of emotion,” describing the opening tie as “a fixture that feels like a war”.

He also promised that his side will ensure that Andy Farrell’s men will not record a fourth victory in a row against the world champions.

The clash will mark the first home game for the Boks since their World Cup success while there is a lot of pressure on the Irish to put in a big performance.

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Talking to the media this week, 116-capped Garryowen man Conor Murray was optimistic: “You just have to be ready to step up. Physicality is very much part of the South African game and it is such a meaningful sport to the population.”

Meanwhile, Munster Rugby have put the cap on the 2023/24 season with a comprehensive statistical report which is worth reading.

Jack O’Donoghue reached his 200th appearance for the province while Andrew Conway, Simon Zebo, RG Snyman, Joey Carbery, Antoine Frisch, Jack O’Sullivan, Chris Moore, Keynan Knox, and Neil Cronin have bowed out gracefully.

It’s also the time of the year when youth gets its ticket to shine with Edwin Edogbo, Tony Butler, Ethan Coughlan, Mark Donnelly, and Brian Gleeson promoted to the senior ranks while followers of schools rugby will be familiar with some of the players who have been promoted to the Academy such as Seán Edogbo (brother of Edwin), Michael Foy, Luke Murphy, Gene O’Leary Kareem, Jake O’Riordan, and Danny Sheahan.