Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby World Cup

We are underdogs and pressure is on Irish: Saint-Andre

By Jonathan Bradley

Philippe Saint-Andre has insisted his side will enter tomorrow's Pool D decider with Ireland as heavy underdogs.

The victors of the Millennium Stadium clash will face Argentina in the quarter-finals while the losers will be forced to meet world champions New Zealand in the last eight.

Having not beaten Ireland in the past four attempts, Saint-Andre feels the weight of expectation is firmly on Joe Schmidt's side to continue the run.

"I think all the pressure is on the shoulders of Ireland," he said.

"They are favourites and it would be a huge shame for them if they lost on Sunday. If you want to be world champion, it's good to win your pool matches.

"Sunday's match is against one of the world's leading rugby powers, fifth in the rankings.

"There might be 35 or 40,000 Irish fans in the stadium with a closed roof for what will be a very intense, high-quality game."

The former winger has opted to select two full-backs in his back three and admits that the selection is based upon the need to negate Ireland's kicking out of hand.

With Johnny Sexton to the fore, Ireland have secured back-to-back Six Nations crowns utilising a hugely successful aerial game. "Ireland have a very attacking kicking game and score lots of points off up-and-unders and crossfield kicks," said Saint-Andre. "Ireland put a lot into their offensive kicking."

Saint-Andre has once again resisted the temptation to start Morgan Parra at scrum-half, the number nine jersey occupied by Sebastien Tillous-Borde, and alongside Toulon team-mate Freddie Michalak it is a half-back duo that the soon-to-be departing head coach has faith in.

"That pairing works well," he said. "Fred Michalak is like a red wine, he only gets better with age."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph