Ireland defence coach and head coach in waiting, Andy Farrell, believes that Ireland can use their shock defeat to Japan as a “powerful” motivator for the rest of the World Cup.
Farrell was speaking at Ireland’s captain’s run at the Kobe Misaki Stadium on the eve their clash with Russia on Thursday.
The 19-12 defeat to the host nation has taken the wind out of the Ireland hype’s sails but Farrell believes that the loss can galvanise the squad to greater things as he references sides who have lost pool games in the past before going on to do well in the knockout stages.
“You can use a setback in the right manner,” Farrell said.
“You can look at the last three World Cups. South Africa lost to Japan and lost the semi-final (to New Zealand) 20-18. You look at 2011 – France looked in disarray and there’s a debate about whether they should have won the final.
“In 2007, I was part of the England squad that got a thrashing against South Africa. There was a bit of turmoil in that camp and they managed to get to the final. There was a debatable try that was disallowed. You can use these to your advantage, they’re not ideal, but if you use them to your advantage they can be powerful.
“After a couple of days of understanding the reasons why, we’re in good spirits – back on track and ready to prove a point.”
Farrell admits that Ireland’s defensive performance against Japan was a mixed bag but did highlight the team’s desire – symbolised by Keith Earls’ tracking back at the death which secured a losing bonus point.
“That (Russia game) can’t come quick enough, but as far as the defensive performance, it’s a mixed bag.
“There are certain things I’m unbelievably proud of them for. If you look at (saving) that bonus point at the end – Keith Earls chasing back – and it wasn’t just that. It was getting back on our line and forcing – it might be an unforced error in their minds.”
One of the issues from Ireland’s loss to Japan was the nine penalties they conceded, many of them for offside offences. The offside line, or lack thereof, has been a topic of discussion at this World Cup and Joe Schmidt confirmed this week that three of the four offside calls which went against his side in Shizuoka were incorrect, as confirmed by World Rugby.
Farrell is expecting an improvement in that regard on Thursday and he confirmed that Ireland have practised defending from 10m back this week so to leave no doubt in the referee’s mind.
“You’ve got to adapt and have a no-excuse mentality. The only point Joe (Schmidt) was trying to make yesterday is that we’re a disciplined side – we pride ourselves on our discipline massively.
“We don’t want to go back into ourselves. In fact, we’ve been practising rugby league this week by going back 10 metres so we’re not offside. It’s unfortunate, at times, but we can’t let that affect ourselves. All we can do is make sure we’re disciplined and we want to show that on Thursday night.”