Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Rugby World Cup: Ireland must shut down Genia and Cooper

Ireland defence coach Les Kiss insists shutting down Will Genia and Quade Cooper is the key to success at Eden Park this morning.

One of the biggest matches of the World Cup group stages will see the winner place one foot in the quarter-finals.

Wallaby half-backs Genia and Cooper, the heartbeat of their team, have been in magnificent form and Kiss accepts shutting them down will be a challenge.

“Do we have a special plan for them? The night before grabbing hold of them and locking them up in a room somewhere! Short of that, there's no special plan,” Kiss said.

“It's something to be aware of. They're critical to what Australia do.

“There's a lot of talk about Cooper, but he relies on what Genia can do to the defence around the ruck area. Obviously we've focused on closing down the options Genia has.

“Depending on how the game goes in the conditions, we've got to concentrate on picking the right moment to put pressure on him.

“If the right pressure is there, he has to ask the question of himself whether he's up for it.

“People respond to pressure in different ways and in big Tests that's what it's about.”

Kiss expects Australia to contin

ue with the policy of removing Cooper from the defensive line.

The 23-year-old's frailty in the tackle, combined with his threat as a counter-attacker, means either wing James O'Connor or Adam Ashley-Cooper will step into the fly-half channel with Cooper dropping back.

“It will be interesting to see how Australia approach the game,” said Kiss. I'd say James O'Connor has done it before and will go in that channel.

“We feel like they'll stick with that and will put Quade out the back again, keeping him fresh for the moments he's been waiting for to impose himself.

“Do we chase Quade in other ways? Maybe we need to make him feel pressure in other ways.”

Australia are 1/5 favourites to win a match that looked like being Pool C's pivotal encounter when the draw was made in 2008.

But Ireland's recent form — they lost all four warm-up internationals and looked unconvincing in their 22-10 victory over the USA last weekend — points to the final group game against Italy on October 2 as being the crunch encounter.

In the context of the last 12 months, which has been plagued by inconsistency, it is hard to envisage the Irish prevailing this morning.

Kiss, however, insists the squad are convinced they can cause an upset in Auckland.

“It's nothing like a big game like this to focus the mind, but the boys have prepared well,” said the Australian.

“I know a lot of people don't give us much of a chance but it's a game the lads are up for.

“The most important thing is what we believe.

“The lads have played in a lot of pressure games before, like Heineken Cup finals. They know what it's about and know what resources they have internally.”

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