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In-form Marmion expects stiff Tests from Japanese hosts

 

By Robert Jones

Kieran Marmion is looking to make the most of his opportunities in the coming weeks as Ireland gear up for their two-Test series with Japan.

The Connacht scrum-half, who made his Test debut against Argentina in June 2014, started Ireland's 55-19 victory over the US Eagles in New Jersey last Saturday and will be looking to hold off competition from Leinster half-back Luke McGrath and Ulster-bound No.9 John Cooney across the next fortnight.

With Munster's Conor Murray away on Lions duty in New Zealand, Marmion has been given a rare chance to shine and will be looking to build on his solid display in the sweltering conditions of the Red Bull Arena.

"Yeah, it's great to get that exposure," Marmion said, reflecting on his performance in the States.

"We had a good result there. It was pretty tough conditions in the heat. It was nothing like I've experienced before so that was challenging. It was a good performance but I think we can build on it as well.

"Again, the US Eagles was a challenge, but coming into these two weeks we'll be facing a bigger challenge from Japan."

Having posted nine tries, including a first-half effort from Marmion, against the Eagles, Ireland are set for a far sterner test against Jamie Joseph's outfit.

"Over the last few years Japan have improved hugely," he added.

"They have got a very good coaching outfit. They will be coming with a few surprises. They have got quality throughout their whole team. We have to be fully on it for 80 minutes to get a good result this weekend."

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