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After beating Ulster Academy U17s 12-7 in a three-period, open-subs game on Saturday, the EIRA squad will play in a regular-length game against Leinster Academy U17s on Tuesday in Dublin and then return for a rematch against the Ulster boys in Belfast.
Players Mike Weir and Quinn Sheppard understood that winning that first game was a confidence boost, but it was also a warning. Thompson noted "a hurricane is coming" in the form of the Ulster and Leinster teams, which won't be caught napping after seeing firsthand that the EIRA players can play rugby.
"We got better as [the game] went on," EIRA assistant coach Scott Bracken said. "And the guys did really well, but we put a target on us now."
So the players have to buckle down and realize it won't come easy. Team manager and mental strength coach Darrell Knowlton said that process is a big part of what the tour is about.
"The boys are learning the difference between being a good rugby player and what it takes to be an elite representative of EIRA," Knowlton said. "The training environment is ideal for success, because everything is on site. There is a learning curve for some of the boys on how to be in performance-based competition for just under two weeks."
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