It’s going to be a wet, grassy ground at Stadium Taranaki, and that means every player needs to concentrate that much harder on getting a good grip on the ball.
Square in the crosshairs of the Irish team is young Blaine Scully, who starts at fullback for the Eagles in place of the injured Chris Wyles. Scully has done this before, and with some success, but Ireland will be targeting the unknown quantity in the #15 shirt nonetheless.
Everyone knows it, and Scully expects more than a few high balls and searching kicks sent his way.
“Especially in wet weather conditions it’s that extra focus that’s really necessary,” Scully told RUGBYMag.com. “You’ve got to keep your focus, get your body right and your balance right; balance is hugely important because if you don’t have a firm base to do anything from, you’re in trouble. You just need to put it together, get up in the air, and make a play.”
Scully has shown himself effective in counter-attacking, which will be a big part of the USA’s attack if Ireland kicks. There’s a lot to figure out in a short space of time.
“You’ve got to know where you are on the field and who you have with you,” Scully said. “There are a lot of different factors you have to find answers for really quickly and a whole bunch of cues you have to take. Communicating with your back three is essential.”
And so is catching the ball.
Notes: Chris Wyles was possibly healthy to play Sunday, but the coaching staff was concerned that since Wyles has not played any rugby in several months, and he is just coming off an injury, that his recovery would be unpredictable. As a result, he is not suiting up for Ireland, with the expectation that we will do so against Russia.