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Ireland must pack an even bigger punch against World Cup hosts Japan, warns Rory Best

 

Big hitters: Ireland captain Rory Best, packing down in training yesterday, knows they'll need to up their performance levels to topple World Cup hosts Japan tomorrow
Big hitters: Ireland captain Rory Best, packing down in training yesterday, knows they'll need to up their performance levels to topple World Cup hosts Japan tomorrow
Jonathan Bradley

By Jonathan Bradley

Ireland captain Rory Best has urged his side to up their game ahead of taking on World Cup hosts on Japan tomorrow (8.15am UK time), revealing that Joe Schmidt has already warned the level of performance from their 27-3 win over Scotland won't be enough to topple the Brave Blossoms.

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Ireland took control of Pool A in commanding fashion last weekend, setting up a probable quarter-final with the Springboks in the process, but Jamie Joseph's men have spoken confidently all week about pulling off a shock victory.

And Best agrees that the side who have never beaten Ireland in seven Tests are well capable of pulling off an upset.

"We know it was pretty good (against Scotland) but on Monday evening and Tuesday morning we were told that there is a lot more to come," said the man who will make his 100th Ireland start in Shizuoka.

"We felt that there was more to come, but I think 'a lot more' was the phrase used, so we're under no illusions about where we are.

"We know it was a good start but we also know how difficult this weekend is going to be, playing the host nation, especially one that has improved so much and has so many quality players.

Best added: “It’s going to be really, really tricky for us, so we’re going to have to be better.”

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Best’s own performance in Yokohama was his surest for some time, answering his critics with a wire-to-wire 80 minute showing that featured one of his side’s four tries and a perfect 12/12 day at the line-out.

While pleased with his own game, he added that when it comes to World Cups the goals are decidedly more collective.

“Look, I think when you get to the World Cup, what you want to do is, as a team, you want to play your best, but you also have to be aware that, for the team to play best, you need individuals to contribute to that, and that is a lot of what we go by.

Lifting morale: Rory Best works hard in an Ireland gym session
Lifting morale: Rory Best works hard in an Ireland gym session

“We know that the individual has to do stuff to make sure that the people around him play better, and I was reasonably happy with my contribution on Sunday but it was just small bit in a massive team effort.

“I think obviously you prepare yourself to play 80 minutes, you want to stay on the pitch in these big games as long as you can.

“We’re also as a squad acutely aware of how much, over the last number of years, emphasis we put on the bench and the bench coming in, and not just fitting in, but fitting in and adding stuff. We know that they come on strong at the end.

“I think the reason you do the pre-season, the reason you condition yourself is to get ready to play as long as you can.

“And, yeah, it was a little bit tiring in the last few minutes but it was good to get through it.”

Best also gave backing for his former Ulster team-mate Chris Farrell, who will get his first World Cup start in the game.

The Fivemiletown man was an early substitute in the Scotland win, coming in for Bundee Aki, and the now-Munster centre’s cameo has earned him the No.12 jersey this time around.

“I think Chris has developed incredibly well from his time in France (at Grenoble) and more recently at Munster. When he was with Ulster, there was no doubt about his talent but he had a bad run of injuries, and sometimes to break that you need to go away and almost find yourself. 

“I have no doubt that he has done that. Every time he has played at the top level for Ireland, I think he’s been very good.

“I thought he was very good coming off the bench last Sunday and it will be great for him to get another opportunity.”

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