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Kearney Thinks Ireland May Be Showing South Africa ‘False Pictures’

16 September 2023; Conor Murray of Ireland is tackled by Sione Talitui and Augustine Pulu of Tonga during the 2023 Rugby World Cup Pool B match between Ireland and Tonga at Stade de la Beaujoire in Nantes, France. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
By PJ Browne Updated
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Rob Kearney believes some of Ireland's tactics in their opening two games at the Rugby World Cup may have been utilised with this weekend's crunch tie against South Africa in mind.

Ireland defeated Tonga 59-16 on Saturday night, adding to their 82-8 victory over Romania.

"You look at Mack Hansen's try [against Tonga], I think Ireland had six, maybe seven passes to get the ball to the edge before being tackled," former Ireland fullback Kearney told Virgin Media.

"You don't get that sort of time against South Africa. We're going to have to play an awful lot more front door balls, which means hitting those forwards taking the line flat as opposed to all those balls out the back that we see a lot of Irish teams playing. If we keep going out the back, South Africa just flood through and keep putting us behind the gain line.

"Yes, we have been [playing those backdoor balls more lately] because the opposition that we're playing against has left that space on the edge and are not rushing as hard. We're doing the right thing but that will not work against South Africa.


"We could be showing these pictures time and time again over the last few weeks to coax South Africa into thinking that we are going to go out the back and that's when you see some of those forwards give a really nice no-look pass and just play a tip-off their shoulder."

Asked to what extent Ireland are showing "false pictures" to South Africa, Kearney replied, "I think they're showing them bits and pieces".


"I think they definitely showed them a fair bit [against Tonga]," he continued.

"Particularly how much they attacked around the edge. There were a few kicks off Conor Murray sort of in and around the centre of the field. They looked at the chip line a little bit and that's something that would be pretty common at World Cups when you're playing a lesser team before the big one. You will often have a game that is somewhat manipulated to give next week's opposition a different idea."

Kearney added that at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, when Joe Schmidt was head coach and Andy Farrell was one of his assistants, Ireland tried to show false pictures to Japan ahead of their pool stage clash. Ireland lost that match 19-12.


See Also: Paul O'Connell Has One Big Ireland Concern Ahead Of South Africa Showdown

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