Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Scannell enjoying International odyssey


By Brendan Fanning

The early part of week one in the US was spent wondering where the sweltering weather had gone to. But it was back in good time for game day.

We expect more of the same in Japan: Locals assure us that the Test in Hamamatsu on Saturday, which is two hours' travel time from Tokyo, will be a steamy affair.

So Niall Scannell will be picking up where he left off in the Red Bull Arena. A card-carrying member of the flak-jacket platoon, the hooker gives direction by going north-south when games have drifted east-west. His timing in that department in New Jersey was spot on.

"Yeah, I think the unspectacular tends to be part of my game anyway," he says.

"Last week especially with the heat and stuff the tendency is to get a bit loose. This week will be more of the same: they look to play with a lot of width, a lot of very quick rugby. So if we can bring it down to our pace, try and put a bit of physicality on it, that would be brilliant for us."

An injury to Sean Cronin opened the first door for him to get into the Six Nations squad. Then Rory Best got ill the night before the Italy game, and suddenly it the Cork man had become the 1,090th player to be capped for Ireland.

The opportunity is made all the more enjoyable by having his younger brother Rory along.

"He's developed parts of his game," Niall says of Rory.

"He has the distribution game and kicking game. People may have questioned his physicality at 12 but I think he has put an exclamation mark around that."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph