Cian Healy is confident that Ireland can put in an improved performance when they take on France on Sunday in the penultimate round of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations.
Ireland, of course, have been below par thus far in this championship but they still have a chance of reclaiming their title thanks to their wins against Scotland and Italy after the opening round loss to England.
For Healy, the powerful loosehead missed out on the win in Rome due to squad rotation but he used the time off to keep improving his fitness ahead of what will likely be an exhausting hit out against a big and powerful French side on Sunday.
With France showing what they are capable of in their win over Scotland, Ireland will likely need to show their best performance of this campaign if they are to get that much-needed victory over Jacques Brunel’s side but Healy admits it’s difficult to put his finger on why Ireland have struggled in recent weeks.
“It’s a difficult one,” Healy said.
“There are little bits in different areas of the pitch that have put us a little bit behind the play but we’ve put a lot of good things together, just a final pass or something that hasn’t gone right.
“I think in the last two weeks of training hard and putting ourselves under pressure, we’ve started to see that come good for us in training and starting to really enjoy what we’re doing. It feels like a good place to be in at the moment.”
One of the many mooted explanations for Ireland’s struggles is that they are simply trying too hard but Healy refutes this.
“We’re not trying too hard. Everyone comes in and they’re clear focused and they know what they have to do.
“Things happen like the drop of a ball and how you deal with that and bounce back from it. You don’t want to back up a negative with a negative, it has to go from a negative to positive to go forward to the next play. That’s the sort of process we want to go through from a mistake.”
The focus on training hasn’t changed too much in recent weeks despite the worrying performances but Healy does admit that they have been paying particular attention to reinforcing what Ireland are all about.
“Just reinforce what we stand for and everything we do,” Healy replied when asked whether Ireland have changed anything in training.
“Simple things like handling, to tackles, to breakdowns. Just reinforce everything and people drilled on that. That extra bit of focus it might take.”
With the World Cup ever looming, many people have suggested that the struggles that Ireland are currently experiencing may benefit them when they head to Japan in September. Healy hopes that this is the case.
“I’d hope so. You hope everything you do as a positive adds to the team and adds another string to the bow or is going to propel you further. We’ve built a squad of a lot of players who are all capable of stepping in and now it’s understanding that if something happens this is the next step, this is the next step and this is how we get back on the front foot.”