David Foley enjoyed a dream debut for Ireland as he was named man of the match against Georgia, but the Munster lock believes the challenges are only just beginning.
After a scrappy first half which saw Ireland take a 9-0 lead into at the break, Felix Jones claimed a brace and Dave Kilcoyne, Richardt Strauss, Simon Zebo and Stuart Olding all crossed, with Giorgi Nemsadze responding for Georgia.
Foley was one of 13 changes to the side that lost to South Africa, and took his chance in style.
“It was absolutely incredible,” he said. “I suppose I’ve been dreaming about this since I was a young kid and you never know if you’ll get the opportunity. But I won’t be getting carried away with myself and the team won’t be getting carried away with themselves. We’ve got a massive task next week against Australia.”
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Ireland had been limited by a number of mistakes in the first half, but were more clinical in the second period and the scores piled up quickly.
“We talked about it at half-time, just trying to up the tempo,” Jones said. “We knew the first score would be crucial, going in at 9-0 if they come out and score first they’re right in it. We knew they were going to be very sticky at the beginning, they really put it up to us for the first 15 minutes but we were happy enough in the second half to turn the wheels a little bit.”
The slow start did not surprise coach Joe Schmidt given the number of changes made, but he was pleased with the way the players responded in the second half.
“It’s always a bit of a banana skin when it’s Georgia and you’ve made 13 changes,” he said. “We were a little bit static in the first half, but we kept the structure and we knew the ruck penalties they were accumulating were perhaps an opportunity for us. Getting that one just before half-time gave us a little bit of confidence to go out there and up the tempo in the second half.”
Schmidt admitted a number of players had given him plenty to think about with Australia up next, and Foley agreed, saying he believes the building blocks are now in place looking ahead to the World Cup.
“There’s massive confidence in the squad,” he said. “The provinces are going very well and Joe is trying to get some depth in the squad.”
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