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CJ Stander- “It’s A-Grade Grass But It’s Just Not Stable”

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A lot has been said about the state of the pitch at Fukuoka Stadium where Ireland are due to play Samoa on Saturday. 

Video footage emerged earlier today of Irish centre Chris Farrell placing a match ball underneath the playing surface.

World Rugby have come in for criticism in the wake of what is deemed by many as an unplayable surface. However, they have come out and defended the integrity of the playing surface at Fukuoka.

“We are confident in the integrity of the new Fukuoka pitch for Ireland v Samoa. With stability and performance the key considerations, World Rugby and JR 2019 took the decision to re-turf the playing surface following significant wear caused by the France versus USA match after heavy rainfall as a consequence of Typhoon 17. The primary driver was player welfare.

“The tournament has dedicated nurseries where back-up turf is meticulously prepared in line with Rugby World Cup standards. While the look of the turf may not perfect, as would be expected with a very recent installation, confident that the pitch will perform superbly.”

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Despite concerns surrounding Fukuoka’s playing surface, members of the Ireland squad seem fine with the surface upon closer inspection.

Winger Keith Earls isn’t too concerned with the state of the pitch claiming it is the same for both sides.

“It doesn’t look great, to be honest, but actually out there it’s flat and firm and it doesn’t feel too bad to run on. It’s going to be the same for both teams.”

CJ Stander described the pitch as having “A-grade grass”.

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“That grass out there is actually good grass – it’s just not stable in a few points. It’s actually A-grade grass. It just needs a bit more time (to bed in). There’s nothing we can do about that now.

“That’s why we do a captain’s run – to get out there and see how it is.

“As soon as you start running in open space – like ‘Earlsy’ can get to – it’s actually not that bad.

“We’ll just go out tomorrow and make sure we keep our scrums up.”

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Meanwhile, scrum coach Greg Feek reiterated that the side are just preparing as best as they possibly can.

“We’ve been given all assurances by World Rugby that it’s safe to play on and that’s all we can ask for.

“When it comes to a symmetric position where there’s a couple of big packs going at it, you’re always going to be a bit cautious and ask the questions – and that’s all you can do really.

“We’ll prepare our guys as best we can, but we also want to make sure that the scrums stay up – not just for safety but for the game itself.”

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