Scrum coach Fogarty (IRE) - 'Bundee is having a hell of a tournament'

Scrum coach Fogarty (IRE) - 'Bundee is having a hell of a tournament'
Comments from Ireland scrum coach John Fogarty on Sunday after their 13-8 Pool B victory over South Africa at the Stade de France on Saturday, 23 September.

John Fogarty, scrum coach:

On whether Josh van der Flier is OK after getting treatment during the game:

“He is good. There are no obvious injuries at the moment. We’ve managed to come out of what was a really physical game with a full bill of health. There are medicals this morning, we’ll see what comes out of that, but at this moment in time, there are no obvious injuries.”

On how they celebrated last night:

“It is important to celebrate and make sure we’re aware that was a big win. We’re obviously delighted with it. We took the time to enjoy each other’s company – nothing too mad at all. The dressing room is generally the best craic – you are all there together, there are no outside distractions. All the front rows discussed who they played against and how they got on. We enjoyed that time together in the dressing room. It was a late kick-off so we only got back to the hotel around 1am, but we certainly enjoyed each other’s company.”

On their defensive performance and attitude:

“The lads pride themselves on their defence. Simon Easterby [defence coach] does a huge amount of work with the guys. They had a good plan in place but carrying it out against such a physical side was always going to be the test and they did very well. We showed huge energy to get off the ground and be in position for each other. The lads feel they can bring an Irish edge to defence and that type of mentality – getting off the ground, getting in position, getting in front of the South Africans every time. It was certainly an area we focused on going into the game and we were very pleased with how it went.”

On how well Bundee Aki is playing at this World Cup:

“He was excellent. He is always important. He represents himself and his family unbelievably well and he represents us very well on the field. He is having a great tournament so far and last night was no different. For him to put in such a performance on his 50th cap, we are very proud of him.”

On what the result can do for the history of Ireland at the RWC:

“It’s the first time we have played South Africa at a World Cup so we are very proud of the result and the performance. It is such small margins, those games, against a team of that quality. We are very aware that it was a pool game. We have got Scotland next and we have got big tests on the horizon. We are delighted where we are but recovery now becomes the most important thing for us. We can get so many gains from that game if we properly recover. That is the focus right now, to understand what we have done well but to make sure we freshen up. We have got a few days with family, which is so important. I can’t wait to see my wife and kids – I am sick of looking at the boys at this stage!  But we need to get the recovery in now because Scotland are going to be coming, you know.”

On the battle at scrum-time:

“I was very proud of the lads. Like the game itself, it was such small margins. There were times when we felt in control and times when we were under pressure. We had a good plan and the height we scrummaged off, we were very connected with dealing with that weight. Just before half-time, I could see some movement left and the scrum creaked a little bit. At half-time there was a reset of mentality, going back and understanding the plan. The lads were excellent in how they did that in the second half.

“It was a bit up and down and we were dealing with some bodies off the bench, with a bit more weight. There were moments when we were under pressure, but the players were able to be composed, taking the breaks when they had them, clearing their heads, reconnecting with each other and going back at them. The ability to stay composed when we were really under serious pressure was probably the most pleasing thing. Sometimes in a game that can build and you’re racing in your heads, but the lads stayed clear in their heads as to what the plan was. We managed to fight back in that second half.”

On prop Andrew Porter playing 73 minutes against that opposition:

“Andrew was absolutely immense, across the pitch. To do what he did at scrum-time and set-piece is one thing and something he can be very proud of. But to back it up around the field – his defence was excellent, his ability to get off the ground and give people energy. He took a few carries that he needed to make metres in and worked unbelievably hard through those carries. We are very lucky to have him. He is a resilient guy, he has real physicality and a huge engine and appetite for the game. He is working really well with the team at the moment.”

On a possible stamping on Josh van der Flier and whether there is any mechanism to complain:

“I wasn’t aware of a stamping to be honest. I am sure World Rugby and the disciplinary board will be looking across everything and assessing those bits. But at this moment in time, I haven’t heard anything at our end.”

On the impact of Ireland’s bench, when there was so much talk about South Africa’s seven-one split:

“Without a doubt, their plan works well for them and they brought energy onto the field. But I thought our boys were excellent. Iain Henderson showed real composure and shored things up massively across the set-piece and did a great job, and the rest of the boys as well – Finlay [Bealham], ‘Killer’ [Dave Kilcoyne], Dan Sheehan…the lot of then, not just to fit in but add to the energy and composure. We have developed a full squad. There were guys sitting in the crowd that would have been eager to get on and would have done a good job too.”

On what Bundee Aki brings to the side:

“Andy [Farrell] talks about how you make people feel, in attack and defence. What you see from Bundee at the weekend is real physicality, real energy, both sides of the ball. But during the week, Bundee is a great character, he does a huge amount of work in preparation with that centre group and the coaches, so he is very clear in his mind around what he needs to do in a game.

“That doesn’t go unnoticed by players – somebody spending the time to make sure they are unbelievably well prepared. On the field he gives so much energy – picking guys off the ground, he is vocal, he has got excellent footwork, real punch in his tackles and carries. He makes people feel good on the field. He brings real energy and he is having a hell of a tournament.”

On whether everything will still be on the line in the Scotland game:

“We didn’t really talk too much about the next game. The families are over, there are wives and kids around and it was nice to be able to relax with them for a bit and enjoy each other’s company. But we are very clear on Scotland. They have improved year on year. They play today and will play Romania next week. They will be looking to get a win. Across the pitch it is always a challenge to play against them. They are unpredictable in their backline, they have got a gnarly pack. So although we will take a break now, we will get to that next week and start planning and preparing for Scotland. But right now it is about rest and recovery.”

On the fitness of Jack Cronin and Jimmy O’Brien:

“Both boys had a brilliant week. They took part in training this week and they will take part in full training when we come back. We have been very lucky with the health of the squad. Right now, we are looking at training with a full deck.”

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