Joe Schmidt admits Ireland's preparation for Japan not ideal
By Tommy Churchyard
Last Updated: 15/06/17 3:54pm
Ireland's preparations for Saturday's opening Test against Japan have been far from ideal, but head coach Joe Schmidt will ensure his new-look side are ready to rise to the challenge.
Having landed in Tokyo on Monday after a 20-hour flight from New York, Schmidt's men have had to adapt to a new time zone as well as hot and humid conditions.
Schmidt's side face Japan on the back of a 55-19 thrashing of the US Eagles in New Jersey last Saturday and have had just one training session to prepare for this weekend's game.
"Preparations have been pretty brief," said Schmidt.
"The work rate in training today was really good because I think the players are very conscious that it is the only training we will get this week.
"It wasn't perfect, and it seldom is, but I think we will learn from it and hopefully we will be a little more cohesive by the time we kick off on Saturday.
"Trying to acclimatise has been very difficult. You are very jumbled from the different time zones and that has taken a toll, but by the end of the week we have to make sure we are ready to go."
Schmidt has made six changes to the side which beat the US Eagles, with Simon Zebo, Andrew Conway, Rory Scannell, Paddy Jackson, Luke McGrath and Dan Leavy all coming into the starting line-up to face Japan.
Conway, Scannell and McGrath will all make their first Test starts in an Ireland shirt with Munster star Zebo starting at full-back, having been named among the replacements last Saturday.
There is one change to the pack with powerful Leinster flanker Leavy replacing provincial team-mate Josh van der Flier at openside.
Ulster fly-half Jackson did not travel with the squad for their US leg of the summer tour and remained in Ireland for personal reasons, but he linked up with them in Tokyo on Monday and will replace the injured Joey Carbery at number 10.
The rookie trio of tighthead Andrew Porter, lock James Ryan and winger Jacob Stockdale, who scored a try on debut, all drop out of the matchday 23, with Leinster hooker James Tracy, Connacht prop Finlay Bealham and Munster flanker Jack O'Donoghue drafted into the reserves.
The match will take place at Ecopa Stadium in Shizuoka on Saturday and kick-off is at 6am.
Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Luke McGrath; 1 Cian Healy, 2 Niall Scannell, 3 John Ryan, 4 Quinn Roux, 5 Devin Toner, 6 Rhys Ruddock (c), 7 Dan Leavy, 8 Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Finlay Bealham, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Jack O'Donoghue, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Rory O'Loughlin, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.