Ireland out to hit the ground running against Canada

The Six Nations champions, recently ranked second in the world behind New Zealand, will be looking for nothing less than a comprehensive bonus point victory at the Millennium Stadium.

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Coach Joe Schmidt has named a full-strength side barring injured centre Robbie Henshaw, who is replaced by Luke Fitzgerald, and will be looking to the Paul O’Connell-led pack to impose themselves from kickoff.

Kieran Crowley’s Canada will need every bit of their renowned enthusiasm and physicality to make any impression on a pool which also includes France, Italy and Romania.

The Canucks have appeared in every World Cup but got through the pool stage only once, in 1991, and their chances of doing so this year look slim.

Abrasive Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore, playing in his fourth World Cup at the age of 37, is one of the few Canadians regularly playing top class rugby and he captains the side in the absence of injured flanker Tyler Ardron.

Despite the green and red clad fans basking in the Autumn sunshine as they enjoyed their pre-match drinks on the streets of Cardiff, the clash will be played under a closed roof.

It will be refereed by New Zealander Glen Jackson, who penalised the Irish heavily in their warm-up victory over Wales last month.

Ireland will be hoping he will be less visible on Saturday than he was at the Millennium Stadium in August, or indeed less visible than South African Jaco Peyper was in the tournament opener on Friday.

“You don’t want the ref involved in the game,” Ireland’s number eight Jamie Heaslip said on the eve of the match.

“You just wanna paint good pictures around either rucks or mauls or tackles and take his decisions out of the game.”

(Editing by Toby Davis)