Ireland are ready to front up and show their inner steel against France after being labelled ‘softies’ by South Africa’s World Cup winning coach
- Springboks boss Rassie Erasmus called Ireland ‘softies’ in a documentary
- Ireland forwards coach Simon Easterby backs his stars to prove Erasmus wrong
- They have won in Paris three times since 1972 but the Six Nations title is in reach
Ireland have promised to show some steel in the Stade de France on Saturday night after they were labelled ‘softies’ by Springboks supremo Rassie Erasmus.
Erasmus – who had a spell at Munster before guiding South Africa to World Cup glory last November – was less than complimentary about Ireland prior to his side’s semi-final clash with Wales in Japan.
In Chasing the Sun, the behind-the-scenes documentary chronicling their capture of the Webb Ellis trophy, Erasmus warns his players of the Welsh threat before stating: ‘They are not softies, they’re not like Ireland. They’re not like England, who goes away. They are tough f******.’
Ireland have vowed to show some steel against France in the Six Nations decider this weekend
And ahead of the potential Six Nations title decider against France, Simon Easterby is backing his players to bare their teeth in Paris.
‘I know you’ll see a performance that, regardless of what Rassie Erasmus has said in that quote, would suggest otherwise,’ said the Ireland assistant coach.
‘I can’t wait to see what we’re going to deliver, the stuff from the forward pack. We’ve been working with John (Fogarty) on the scrum and the contact area, myself at the lineout.
South Africa coach Rassie Erasmus insulted Ireland by calling them ‘softies’ in a documentary
‘We have to get on the front foot, to do that we have to have a mentality and a mindset to go after the French.
‘What other people’s perception of us is, it’s exactly that, it’s someone else’s opinion.
‘We can only control what we can control and that is being physical. We have to win collisions, we have to do it as a unit, as a forward pack.’
Ireland head coach Andy Farrell has backed rookies such as Will Connors, Hugo Keenan and Caelan Doris to do the business against Les Bleus.
Ireland’s forwards coach Simon Easterby (above) is backing the team to prove their strength
Ireland have triumphed in Paris on just three occasions since 1972 while this squad has struggled to match the power of larger teams – such as England – in recent times. But Easterby believes that this current crop has the talent and mindset to do something special.
‘There is a real single-mindedness about some of these players, some guys you maybe are not as familiar with. That gives me massive confidence, that gives us massive confidence as a coaching group to know that they can go out and perform.
‘It’s like anything, there’s always that, “We’ve got to go out and perform and be physical”, but I genuinely believe this team is starting to understand what it takes.
‘I genuinely think this team is starting to understand what it takes to be physical, what it takes to win collisions, what it takes to prevent the opposition from getting into the game with that physicality and winning those collisions.’
Cian Healy is set to become Ireland’s sixth Test centurion when he features against France
Cian Healy is set to become Ireland’s sixth Test centurion this weekend, joining an illustrious club containing Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara, Rory Best and John Hayes.
And Ireland will look to make it an occasion to remember for the veteran Leinster prop.
‘He has done incredibly well to get to this position,’ Easterby added.
‘We have seen a few things during the week, some of his highlights from the past 10 or 11 years since he made his debut.
Ireland will now look to make it an occasion to remember for the Leinster prop this weekend
‘He is a real inspiration to everyone. If young players follow in his footsteps, then they will be going along the right path.
‘He has battled through some really tough times with injuries, times when he thought things might not continue for him. What an unbelievable inspiration to all of us and in particular his team-mates, to run out for his 100th test. I think there’s definitely some motivation.
‘The players are desperate to get a result but also to make sure that he remembers this game like he should.’