October 2, 2019 / 5:02 AM / 13 days ago

Rugby-Ireland must adapt quickly in humid Kobe, says Farrell

KOBE, Japan, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Ireland will have to quickly adapt to the most humid conditions of their tournament so far against Russia in Kobe on Thursday in a game that cannot come soon enough after their shock defeat to Japan, defence coach Andy Farrell said.

With temperatures topping 30 degrees Celsius this week in the port city that is bordered by sloping hills, the closed roof at the Kobe Misaki Stadium made conditions especially difficult when fellow Pool A contenders Scotland beat Samoa on Monday.

Scotland captain Stuart McNally remarked how he started sweating just by walking onto the pitch before the game while team mate George Horne said it was one of the slipperiest balls he had ever had to deal with.

“We know the stats from the last two games that have been played here, 30 handling errors in one and 35 in the other so it’s being able to adapt to that,” Farrell, whose side had a run out on the surface early on Wednesday, told a news conference.

“It’s hot and because of the humidity in the stadium, the ground sweats as well. The conditions are ones that most people are not quite used to, but I suppose we’ve played in the rain quite a bit as well. It’s something that we have to cope with.”

Ireland will qualify for the quarter-finals with bonus-point wins over Russia and Samoa, and could still top the pool depending on results elsewhere.

Describing the defence in Saturday’s 19-12 defeat as a mixed bag, given some last-ditch tackles saved a potentially crucial losing bonus point, Farrell said the team hoped to use an early setback to kick on as South Africa, France and the 2007 England squad he was part of had in the last three tournaments.

“A setback, you can use it in the right manner,” said the former dual-code international who will take over from Ireland coach Joe Schmidt after the World Cup.

“They’re not ideal but you can use them to your advantage and they can be powerful. After a couple of days and understanding the reasons why (we lost), I think we’re in good spirits, back on track and ready to prove a point.”

With a bonus point expected to be easily secured against the lowly Russians, whatever the conditions, Farrell said there was no chance of Ireland being complacent after the shock in Shizuoka.

“We look back to our last result and that’s enough. It doesn’t really matter who we’re playing this week whether it’s Russia or New Zealand, the same applies. It’s about getting back up on the horse and putting in a good performance,” he said.

“The feeling in the camp is back to excitement and wanting to put things right on the pitch on Thursday night so that can’t come quick enough.” (Reporting by Padraic Halpin Editing by Amlan Chakraborty)

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