The post-mortem on Ireland’s loss to England, from the squad’s perspective at least, has been swift.
The players had Sunday off to recover from the game and on Monday morning they sat through a video review session on their 12 point loss to their rivals from across the Irish Sea.
Painful and uncomfortable viewing most likely but from speaking to the players over the last two days, it’s clear that there is a sense of highlighting where they went wrong, acknowledging it and then all their attention goes into rectifying those issues in training this week.
As can be with professional sport, Ireland were lauded as the best in the world by some before the game against England and then suddenly there’s disaster is in the air due to one loss.
This squad, and that includes both players and staff, don’t see it this way. They will look back on the last 12 months with a lot of belief that they are a very good team, that their processes lead to them peaking, more often than not, to perform on matchday. A loss provides a valuable lesson – to understand where things went wrong in preparation and why Ireland were uncharacteristically inaccurate against Eddie Jones’ side.
“Accuracy” has been the term of the week in Carton House and you can expect Ireland to improve in that regard when they face Scotland at Murrayfield this Saturday.
Greg Feek, Ireland’s scrum coach, spoke to the media today and he very much adhered to the mantra that Ireland need to get back to being “Ireland” – a team which is focussed, accurate and clinical – that is the main aim this week.
“It’s too late now, part of it is coming back to being Irish, being Ireland and playing like we have done,” Feek said.
“There were parts at the weekend [where] we didn’t show that focus. But with all due respect, England played well.
“We can’t undo what happened. All we can do now is focus on our accuracy and preparation for this week, that’s our sole focus. The players know what we need to work on and we’ve only got a couple of training runs to come, so you just get what you need to get right done.”
In the context of the World Cup, many argue that Ireland’s loss to England is in their best interests as it provides a ‘wake-up call’ of sorts before the big prize on offer at the end of the year.
“Some people might say this is a good thing.
“It’s never a good thing for us to lose, nobody likes losing and no one likes having tries scored against them either.”
Another positive light being shined on the loss to Eddie Jones’ men is that Ireland can now use the defeat as motivation going forward but Feek warns to proceed with caution on that theory because you can’t let emotions get the better of you. You need to find the balance between confidence and knowledge that if you’re not at your best at this level, you will likely lose.
“Over the years, you talk about ‘a loss can be a good thing’. But you still have to focus… you can’t be getting all overworked and overemotional about it.
“You have to come back to getting the accuracy right, your preparation right. Also, backing ourselves.
“We’ve done it before. So when we’re talking about confidence, it’s being on that edge of confident, but also knowing if you don’t get it right, we’ll get nailed.”