Ireland RWC squad focused at Form Reversal in 2019
Dublin , Ireland - 2 February 2019; Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt prior to the Guinness Six Nations Rugby Championship match between Ireland and England in the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. (Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

With all International sides now announced, the Ireland RWC squad is wholly focused on a ‘form reversal’ in 2019, after the disappointment of the Six Nations.

There is no hiding from it though. As Wales has run through all challengers in 2019, the Irish failing when on the top of the pre-Championship list, bewildered some. It disappointed their large supporter base, which has seen their men in green have to re-exam their game.

What, and how this recovery affects Irish rugby is what Joe Schmidt (see main picture) and skipper Rory Best are concentrating on most. Not wanting to fall back into the ‘mid pack’ again after a stunning rise in fortunes leading up to 2018. Since the last Rugby World Cup, Ireland gained more respect and demonstrated a better ability to perform to a high level, until the blip that was their 2019 Six Nations run.

Returning to that level quickly, and by September, is a key goal.

The tactics and strategy that Ireland employ now to do that, is up to the close-knit team. They have the experience, ambition and a desire to write a new RWC history – including a team that promises so much.

Ireland RWC squad focused at Form Reversal in 2019

Which players, and what combinations are needed to help in the Ireland RWC squad purpose, might only be known once the preparations are completed. Meaning, that when the International friendly matches come around, Ireland will need to make the most of limited opportunities.

The upcoming summer Internationals will pit Ireland against Italy on August 10. A two-week break is then followed by three crucial matches; two being away fixtures.

England v Ireland – Saturday August 24, Twickenham

Wales v Ireland – Sat Aug 31, Principality Stadium

Ireland v Wales – Sat September 7, Aviva Stadium

Development of the Ireland RWC squad is progressing from the initial group of 44 players being put through their paces. Conditioning and strategizing, a mix of closed and open training sessions across Ireland, to establish the core goals for 2019.

Over the course of the summer, that group must be reduced to 31 names, when the World Cup departure date arrives. So between training and fitness sessions now, to warm-up games, and head-to-head clashes against Six Nations partners, that will culminate in a game plan.

That plan will involve a form reversal from the 2019 Six Nations results. Losses to England and Wales eroded much of the good work established from 2014. That confidence needs to be restored, and head coach Joe Schmidt is said to be wholly focused on the task.

Final Ireland campaign for Joe Schmidt at 2019 RWC

Leaving the post, along with his captain and many other senior players, Schmidt is determined to point Ireland towards it’s best finish place at a Rugby World Cup.

Irish Rugby head of performance David Nicifora believes they are on the right patch. Nucifora described the head coaches attitude, when he said, “He {Joe) is so focused for this World Cup and the preparation that they’re about to go into, and there’s no other thought in the minds of those coaches other than what’s in front of them.”

Quoted by the Irish Times as saying, “I think we’ve got to do better than we’ve done before, that’s the starting point, isn’t it? We’ve got to get to a semi-final, and obviously, we want to go further than that if we can. But I think we’d be kidding ourselves if we thought that anything worse than a semi-final is going to be good for us.”

Like the outcome of the Guinness Six Nations, the difference between success and failure is minuscule. Players and management are undoubtedly under pressure. How the 2019 Ireland RWC squad perform in Japan, will write the legacy that Schmidt leaves.

An excellent motivator, he and assistant coach Andy Farrell will do their utmost best to turn around the form slump [of late]. Currently in camp, Ireland RWC squad member Jacob Stockdale described the atmosphere and team culture (in the below tweet).

Located in Pool A, besides host Japan, Samoa and Scotland, it is in all likelihood a chance for Ireland to ‘top their pool’. Qualification for the quarterfinals is a must. Then a semifinal place against either South Africa or New Zealand is the critical test.

Complete that task, and Ireland will have secured their first-ever RWC finals berth.

Then it is one game of knockout rugby. One chance at writing history.

Targeting, and peaking for those matches, is now the top focus for Ireland rugby.

“Main photo credit”
Embed from Getty Images

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