Leamy out to make amends
August 3, 2011
Leamy has impressed in the past against New Zealand © Getty Images
Ireland back-row Denis Leamy insists his side have learnt the lessons from their heartbreaking 2007 World Cup ahead of the 2011 campaign.
Eddie O'Sullivan's Ireland were tipped to impress four years ago but floundered in their group - which included hosts France and surprise package Argentina - and failed to make it past the pool stage. O'Sullivan was bombarded with criticism following their premature exit and held his hands up saying he got the preparation wrong.
While Ireland face four warm-up matches prior to the 2011 showpiece - Ireland had just 160 minutes of match action before 2007's tournament. And Leamy admits a lack of intensity at the coalface meant his team went into the World Cup ill-equipped.
"We prepared really well in 2007," he told PA Sport. "We had a great pre-season and were in really great shape. We just weren't battle-hardened enough in terms of matches. Before I'd played my first game in 2007, I'd been on the pitch for possibly 30 minutes.
"With the number of warm-up games we have, lads could have possibly three to four matches played this time. For me the big difference this year is that when the first ball is kicked against the USA, the boys will be battle-hardened and up to speed in match fitness.
"The pre-season training has been difficult, but getting match fit is completely different to anything else. We probably didn't play too many warm-up games in 2007 out of concern for injury. Geordan Murphy didn't make the 2003 World Cup because of an injury and it's a difficult balance to strike. Injury is a risk."
Following Ireland's impressive display against England in the final game of the 2011 Six Nations and Leinster's subsequent triumph in the Heineken Cup - Ireland have been tipped as a potential surprise package to bring home the William Webb Ellis Cup. But Leamy is keen to focus on short-term goals rather than the eventual carrot of the trophy.
"We're better off moving on from 2007 because it was so disappointing," said Leamy. "There was such a big build-up and it didn't help that we openly stated we want to reach the semis and final. When that didn't happen it was used as a stick to beat us with.
"This time it's all about getting out of our pool. We can start to dream from there."
While Wales have been enjoying the 'delights' of the freezing temperatures in Poland - Ireland have been going about their business in a quieter fashion but by no means at a lower intensity. And Leamy admits the conditioning has been tough but will pay dividends come their opening tie of the World Cup on September 11 against O'Sullivan's US Eagles.
"The last few weeks have been very intense. It's been pretty exhausting and any spare minute you have, you put up your feet, relax and take it easy," said Leamy. "You enjoy this time in a sick way. It's a challenge and you have to try to get through the pain. Your muscles are aching and screeching at you to stop.
"It's a good test of your mental strength and it's satisfying when you come out the other end. It's very tough. We've had some really tough sessions with guys spewing up their dinners and stuff like that."
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