Rugby World Cup: Ireland's Niall Scannell not concerned by Kobe humidity

Niall Scannell and Johnny Sexton
Niall Scannell and Johnny Sexton do not expect humidity in Kobe to affect Ireland against Russia
Rugby World Cup: Ireland v Russia
Venue: Kobe Misaki Stadium, Kobe City Date: Thursday, 3 October Kick-off: 11;15 BST
Coverage: Live commentary on BBC Radio Ulster and online

Ireland's Niall Scannell says he is not anticipating the humidity in Kobe to alter the way his team play when they take on Russia on Thursday.

Scotland beat Samoa at Misaki Stadium, where the intense humidity led to lots of handling errors of a slippery ball.

"Watching Scotland and Samoa last night, the humidity was pretty evident," said hooker Scannell.

"You are talking about players with a really high skill level that were struggling to hold a ball."

World Rugby dictates that all the games at the venue must be played in the same conditions, so Ireland's Pool A encounter will be played with the roof closed despite temperatures in the city reaching 30 degrees on Tuesday.

Munster's Scannell will make his first start of the tournament as head coach Joe Schmidt makes 11 changes from the side that lost 19-12 to Japan on Saturday.

Ireland's line-out, which was rock solid against Scotland, faltered against the hosts after an assured start and contributed to the significant amount of time Ireland were forced to defend.

The set-piece will again come under the microscope on Thursday inside a stadium where a high-number of turnovers have been a feature of the games played there so far during the tournament.

"Obviously I'm aware from a line-out point of view that it's going to be a factor conditions-wise for throwing the ball," said Scannell, whose job it will be to find his jumpers.

"It's just something we'll have to adapt to, and it's the old cliché but it's the same for both teams and hopefully it won't be a massive factor in how we attack."

'Hopefully it won't play a big factor'

Johnny Sexton will captain Ireland from the start for the first time on his 86th international appearance.

The fly-half, 34, missed the Japan game with a thigh niggle picked up in the first half against Scotland, which saw him pass over place-kicking duties to Conor Murray.

However on Tuesday he confirmed he will resume kicking responsibilities against Russia and, like Scannell, insisted the conditions would not significantly impact his side's game plan.

"Obviously when you hear an indoor stadium you think air con and (that it) may be a bit cooler but it's quite the opposite from what we hear," said Sexton.

"Even when you're playing outside the ball gets pretty slippery.

Scotland beat Samoa in Kobe
Scotland eased past Samoa at the Kobe Misaki Stadium on Monday but the game was littered with handling errors under the closed roof

"The boys were saying against Japan, especially in the second half, the first half was bone dry but then the longer the game went on the sweatier everyone got, the ball was like a bar of soap," he added.

"We can't just go out and run everything but hopefully it won't play too big a factor."

Pool A is finely poised after the opening two rounds of fixtures, with second-placed Ireland one point ahead of Scotland and Samoa courtesy of their losing bonus-point last weekend.

Their advantage means that five-point wins in their final two games would secure passage to the quarter-finals regardless of other results.

Japan top the group on nine points with games against Samoa and Scotland to come.

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