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Two days ahead of Sunday’s encounter with Ireland at Rotorua International Stadium, the Russian team have made substantial changes to the starting XV from the previous pool match against Italy.
“The coaches have decided to rest some players who had taken part in the previous two games," fly half Konstantin Rachkov explained. "Some guys are injured, like Yury Kushnarev and Igor Klyuchnikov, so a few changes have been necessary anyway.”
Some of the changes are in response to what Russia see as a strong Irish defensive line, with an accent on greater thrust in attack.
One of the newcomers, centre Sergey Trishin, explained the thinking.
“Ireland hold the line very well and put you under constant pressure. We need individual actions to change our attacking directions. I hope that my appearance will bring more of it to the team.”
The 32-year-old veteran Rachkov is excited about the fresh line-up and eager to play his third match in the competition.
“I feel in very good shape. I am at the peak of my form now, so I am ready to play my third game in a row. We are improving from match to match and against Ireland we hope to show better play in attack.
“Alexander Yanyushkin will be in the starting XV as the team’s captain and scrum half.
Sergey Trishin will play his first game at his traditional inside centre position. The youngest team member, Denis Simplikevich, will also make his debut at the World Cup as the right wing.
“And finally, Vasily Artemyev will perform at full back, so the new defence composition looks really interesting.”
Trishin did not seem worried about the new tactics.
“I am used to playing with Artemyev as full back and (Vladimir) Ostroushko as left wing, so our interaction should not be a problem. I have also played once with Simplikevich. We are familiar from Rugby Sevens as well.”