Ireland wary of Maori magic
June 5, 2007
Ireland A coach Michael Bradley has warned his players they must shut down the swashbuckling New Zealand Maori or face the end of their Churchill Cup title hopes.
The Maori ran in nine tries on the way to blitzing Canada 59-23 in their tournament opener on Friday and all-out attack will be their gameplan once again in Exeter tonight.
The winners will feature in Saturday's cup final at Twickenham and Bradley knows his team must deny Donny Stevenson's side any space if they are to triumph.
``The Maori won the tournament last year and they have an awful lot of talented players,'' he said. ``We watched them play Canada play and they were very impressive.
``You need to limit their opportunities and cut down the space they have to operate in.
``If you manage that then it will be a tight game. They're more comfortable when it's loose, but I'm not sure how comfortable when it's tight.
``We won't be keeping it tight, we'll just try and cut down their space. I'm not sure the Maori were tested too thoroughly by Canada.
``They were given a lot of time on the ball and if you give that to footballers of that quality then they'll do a lot of damage.''
Ireland also crushed Canada, running out 39-20 winners at Sandy Park, and Bradley admits that performance has left the squad high in confidence.
``I was very pleased with our display against Canada. Their team was close to their World Cup side but we were too strong for them,'' he added.
``Our forwards went very well. This augurs well for our game against the Maori.''
The Maori side contains plenty of emerging Kiwi talent with Super 14 experience, but head coach Stevenson insists the ethos of the side is about more than bringing youngsters on.
``Some of this team are destined for Test honours,'' he said. ``The Maori is part of their development and I see a few of the current line-up representing the All Blacks.
``We're not a development team because we have some experienced faces in there, but it's a good mixture that helps the younger guys come through.
``The focus of this team is advancing the name of Maori rugby and to do that we need to pick the strongest team available.''