Ireland’s coach says they can recover from defeat
Ireland can recover from the disappointing 32-15 defeat by a clinical Australian side at Lansdowne Road on Saturday and meet the challenge of world champions New Zealand next Sunday, their coach Joe Schmidt said.
The 48-year-old New Zealander, who was appointed to the post after the sacking of Declan Kidney following a poor Six Nations campaign earlier this year, added it was disappointing the side had made no progress from their 40-9 win over Samoa the previous weekend.
However, he said fans could rest assured they would try and put things right against the All Blacks, who come to Dublin seeking to become the first side to go through a calendar year having won every test.
“There’s more work to be done as we are a work in progress,” said Schmidt, who got the job on the back of winning two European Cups with Leinster.
“But I can assure you we will work hard this week and put things right.”
Schmidt admitted that there were several things to be worked on.
“I would be concerned that we have not shown any progress from the game last week. For us it is really important to take stock of what happened tonight.
“I could put a few fingers into a few pies as to things that went wrong. We failed to find touch with our first kick and then lost our first lineout which gave them the initiative.
“We were guilty of defensive naivety. I was pleased with the way we battled back to 15-12 but we could never really get them off the ball and it made it pretty difficult to get on the front foot against them.”
Schmidt, who moved to Leinster after a spell coaching alongside his compatriot Vern Cotter at French giants Clermont, said his side should have adapted to the changing shape of the game.
“Their backs like Israel Folau and Adam Ashley-Cooper are formidable talents and they were coming right at us and that is not what we planned,” he said.
“But that happens in rugby games and you have to adapt.”
Irish captain Paul O’Connell, making his first start for the team since March last year, said that the result was disappointing but there was much they had done wrong against the Wallabies that could be put right quickly.
“It was disappointing that they were winning the battle of the crucial inches and beating us to the ball,” said the 34-year-old Munster lock.
“A few of the team have a little bit to learn. For instance you can’t lose that drive and intensity in test rugby.
“A lot is easily rectifiable. For instance you shouldn’t give up a try when you are defending a maul near your line (flanker Michael Hooper’s second try).
“Also their two tries in the first-half we got too tight and that shouldn’t happen.”
O’Connell, who has fought back after a two year injury nightmare with knee and groin problems followed by a fractured arm, said that it wasn’t just his job to raise the team’s morale against the All Blacks.
“It’s everyone’s job to lift themselves,” he said. “There is a good core of leaders and top class players in the squad who can do that for themselves.
“We believe in ourselves and we aren’t going to let this destroy that belief.”
Schmidt said he did not regret selecting Ian Madigan instead of Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson on the replacements bench even though he hardly gave his performance a ringing endorsement.
Madigan, selected because he gave more cover in certain positions, had to come on for the whole of the second-half after Johnny Sexton suffered a hamstring injury which could see him miss the All Blacks match.
“Obviously that wasn’t in the script that Johnny would go off like that and Ian would have to run the show for the second-half,” said Schmidt.
“We wre a little rudderless in the second-half but that should not be regarded as a mark of disrespect to Ian. It is just he hasn’t played very much in that role this season.”