It’s been a pretty a successful two-week period for Irish rugby.
The senior men, the Ireland U20s and the women are two from two in their respective Six Nations competitions.
For the U20s, they have the most points on the board, with back-to-back bonus-point wins against Scotland and Wales keeping their Six Nations title defence firmly on track after 2019’s superb Grand Slam success.
The respective competitions now enter a ‘down week’ but preparations will be as intense as ever, especially when the senior men and U20s take part in a combined training session at CIT in Cork on Thursday.
These special training sessions have been a regular feature over the last number of years and they tend to have that extra bit of spice as the next generation try to make an impression. While the senior stars are keen to put the young guns in their place.
“Yeah, I’m looking forward to seeing how [what makes] a few of those lads tick and what we can learn from them,” Mark Hernan, who scored two tries against Wales, said.
“Because obviously they’re one of the best teams in the world and best players in the world. It will be good to see what they’re like in day to day training and try to pick up habits that they lay down. Obviously, that is at the back of your head, that you’re looking to try to get there but obviously, it could be a long way away so you’re just trying to pick up from the best in the world, really.”
“I’ve heard a few stories over the last few years from lads I know. But yeah, I think we’re just trying to take as much out of it as we can and it might be a cohesive wave if one lad gets in a bit of a scuffle, that we’re all in. We’re not really thinking about that stuff, it’s just what we can take out of it. Obviously, Andy Farrell is an incredible coach so it’s just learning from him and the players as well as I said.”
Ireland U20 head coach Noel McNamara describes the upcoming training session with the seniors as a “challenge” was also outlining the importance of his young group of players not to be intimidated by going toe-to-toe with the best in the country.
“It’s important because it’s a challenge. It’s important not to be overawed by it. If you stand off, if you don’t get stuck into those exercises then you’re going to come off a bit worse off.
“For the boys, it’s about understanding that they’re on the same playing field and they have to stand up and be counted. It’ll be exactly the same when we go over the play England.
“They’re brilliant, those training sessions. And it’s not replicated in many countries. I just spoke to the Welsh boys and they don’t have anything next week, we get an opportunity to play against some of the best players in the world. It probably shows a bit of the cohesive approach in Irish rugby. It’s something we should applaud.”
With no Six Nations fixtures this weekend, a number of players have been released back to their provinces for the resumption of PRO14 action on Friday and Saturday.