Stakes are high for Ireland

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Stakes are high for Ireland

Triumphant winners of last year’s RBS Six Nations trophy in that dramatic 22-20 win against France, all eyes are on Ireland repeating their 2014 success in 2015’s RBS Six Nations, set to kick off on February 7. Ireland will be playing Italy away at the Stadio Olimpico for their first match of the competition, and will be looking to maintain their impressive record of 19 wins against only 4 losses in the total 23 matches having been played between the two.
Ireland’s performances in their Tests against Argentina in the summer months have put the squad and captain Paul O’Connell under significant pressure to tighten up their handling and tackling in order to be at the top of their game for next year’s tournament. Expectations will be high, and teams will be put through their paces with hopes towards performing well in the Rugby World Cup next September. The famous number 13 jersey still has to be filled, and at present either Robbie Henshaw or Jared Payne look set to be following in the footsteps of one of Ireland’s heroes.

Large boots to fill

Brian O’Driscoll’s men set a high standard for others to follow with their outstanding performances in 2014: the title was the first Ireland had won since 2009, and especially pleasing for new coach Joe Schmidt in his first season. Ireland will surely be one of the bookies’ favourites for the 2015 tournament, and you can keep abreast of the odds on Coral’s new Coral Mobile app. Coral’s service also covers smaller league matches, making for an easy-to-use mobile betting service through which fans and betters alike can follow the progress of their teams and likely candidates for both the RBS Six Nations and 2015’s RWC.

This autumn’s matches against South Africa, Georgia, and Australia will test the mettle of the 37-man squad, beset by troubling injuries to big name players. Sean O’Brien, Andrew Trimble, and Cian Healy are all ruled out of the coming games, but coach Schmidt will be rallying his troops to keep the bar set high, and play to win. Ulster flyer Craig Gilroy has recently come back to full fitness, and will be looking to impress to claim his candidacy for a position in the starting lineup, beating out the likes of Trimble and Tommy Bowe. It’ll all come down to confidence and skill before the first big showdown early next February, and only time will tell if Schmidt’s men in green have what it takes to repeat their title success.

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