Ireland ready for South Africa trip

Peter Jackson
Peter Jackson
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Ireland manager Peter Jackson has welcomed the fact that the national squad will be heading for South Africa for a warm weather training camp next month - and not just because he’s hoping to be on the plane!

A proposed trip to Alicante in Spain was cancelled in favour of the trip to the southern hemisphere as Ireland prepare for Olympic qualifying.

Craig Fulton’s side, ranked 15th in the world, are scheduled to compete in the eight team tournament from the February 28 to March 8 in San Diego, USA.

Ireland will face will face Austria (world ranked 23), Canada (16), Chile (26), Italy (32), Russia (19), USA (28) and Trinidad & Tobago with the top three finishers progressing to the next stage.

The Irish were due to have played four games each against Poland and Spain earlier this month but the decision was taken to cancel this trip in favour of Cape Town in the New Year.

“The weather in south Africa will be much closer to that in California than it would have been in Alicante,” said Ulster man Jackson.

“We were in that part of Spain a couple of years ago and the weather can be unpredictable whereas it’s the height of the summer in South Africa with temperatures in the low 30s celsius.

“Equally, if not more important, is the fact that the lads will meet three top teams in a tournament situation rather than in a series of matches against the same opposition.

In South Africa, Ireland will meet three sides that competed at the London 2012 Olympic Games – world number two side the Netherlands, fourth-ranked Belgium along with their South African hosts.

“It is the perfect training environment and we couldn’t ask for better opposition. It has been an exciting past nine months (since taking the job) and we are really looking forward to achieving in 2015,” said Fulton.