Ireland out to avenge final heartbreak
Len Dineen, the Ireland manager, is confident valuable lessons have been learnt from last year's World Rugby Classic after agonisingly missing out on title glory.
After a 25-year absence from the tournament, the Ireland Rugby Legends returned in spectacular fashion, progressing all the way to the final only to fall at the final hurdle in a 25-0 defeat to reigning champions Argentina.
Ahead of their opening clash against the United States on Monday, Dineen is desperate to avenge that disappointment and go one step further this time round.
“After last year we are relishing being part of the Classic again,” he said.
“Last year was a learning process for us. We came up just short so we'll definitely be aiming to go one better this time around.
“We definitely learnt a lot of lessons. The biggest one was that we didn't use the bench smartly enough and the chance of utilising rolling substitutes.
“At times last year the guys were flat out on the field and so we will try and be smarter and put those lessons into practice.”
A host of forced absentees means Dineen will have a slightly changed squad from last year, however, he will have a strong contingent of former internationals including Anthony Horgan, John Kelly, David Corkley and Shane Byrne to call upon.
Despite the riches of experience among his squad, the manager believes back-to-back champions Argentina will still be the team to beat this year, while also warning his side against complacency, particularly in their opener against the Classic Eagles.
“We're returning to Bermuda with a strong squad,” added Dineen. “I've been boosted by a number of recently retired players, so we'll certainly be leaning on them to make a big impact.
“For sure Argentina will be the team to beat again this year. At times last year I looked at their squad with a degree of envy, they certainly set the standards.
“We know they will play down their expectations but they are always very well prepared and resourced. We also have to be wary of South Africa who look very strong on paper.
“We won't underestimate anyone and that includes the United States who we face in our opening game. We need to get a win and get going.
“That first encounter is always difficult because you never really know what to expect. They will be raring to try and get one over us and so we will have to be prepared for that.”