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How Rory Best and Iain Henderson have gone in at deep end to get line-out right in Ireland's World Cup bid

Ready for take off: Ireland’s rugby team depart for Japan from Dublin Airport yesterday
Ready for take off: Ireland’s rugby team depart for Japan from Dublin Airport yesterday
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland took off for Japan yesterday with the 2019 Rugby World Cup now just eight days away.

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Joe Schmidt's men open their campaign against Scotland next Sunday, two days after the opener between the hosts and Russia in Tokyo.

Ranked the number one side in the world for the first time ever, Ireland have headed east with confidence raised after two wins on the spin against Wales in their final warm-ups.

However, there remain questions over a few aspects of their game, most notably the line-out.

Yesterday, hooker Rory Best revealed that he and Ulster team-mate Iain Henderson, likely to be calling the set-piece, have taken to unusual methods this summer in preparation.

"We mess around a little bit to see what we can take from it," he said. "We've done some practice at line-out throwing in the swimming pool over the summer.

"If it is going to be hot and humid and wet (in Japan), there is no better place than a swimming pool."

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When it comes to rival teams, the Ireland skipper ranks England's Jamie George as the standard setter.

"The best thrower, I reckon, is Jamie George. He is just incredible," added Best of his 2017 Lions team-mate.

"The way he went about practising on that Lions tour - that's the great thing about the Lions, you see different aspects.

"He practises with all sorts of stuff, American footballs. You've probably seen the pictures of him practising in the sea, with a step ladder," he said.

"I have seen him with a boxing glove on one hand just to make himself uncomfortable."

Ireland boarded their flight as scheduled despite Typhoon Faxai having struck landfall last weekend in the Chiba district, which will host the Irish for their opening week of acclimatisation.

Three people lost their lives in the heavy storm.

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