Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw have both discussed one of the areas which Ireland are keen to improve on ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
A disappointing Six Nations campaign which saw Ireland record losses to England in Dublin and Wales in Cardiff saw them finish in third place but those two games were similar, not only in the result but in how Joe Schmidt’s side started both games.
With just two minutes on the clock in Ireland’s Six Nations opener against England, Jonny May crossed the whitewash after a blistering and physically dominant start from Eddie Jones’ men. Ireland did take the lead through a Cian Healy try after 25 minutes but when Elliot Daly crossed for England’s second after the half-hour mark, they never looked back.
Against Wales on the final day of the Six Nations, Ireland conceded again with just two minutes on the clock thanks to a Hadleigh Parkes try. Ireland would not register their first points of the game until Jordan Larmour got over for a try with the clock in the red after Wales’ Grand Slam celebrations had long been started.
Generally, Ireland are an extremely focussed side so it was surprising to see them switch off as they did during the Six Nations.
Both Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw are keen to rectify that going forward.
“There are definitely areas in the Six Nations that we could have been better,” Henshaw said.
“I know I wasn’t involved in four of those games, but I just think the way we started games was probably a big focus – just to ensure we started those games well. So that’ll be one of the big focuses for us. And just getting tighter as a group and look at building confidence. We know it’s going to be a long campaign so we’re going to be with each other for a long time. So we need to just keep growing as a squad.”
“Yeah, certainly, it (slow starts) was a bit of a thing,” Murray said.
“Putting ourselves under a little bit of pressure at the start of games, particularly that England game. One game at the start of the Six Nations can kind of deflate you for the rest of it. It felt like you were chasing your tail a bit for the remainder of the tournament so definitely a focus point.
“There were a few inaccuracy things that we can work on too. The start of a game is massive, especially in a World Cup. When you’re expected to win games, if you give a team a bit of life and they get a bit of belief and momentum, suddenly it turns into a really tough day. It’s about being really clinical and sharp at the beginning and throughout.”
Ireland are currently coming to the end of their fourth week of pre-World Cup training as they set their eyes on their first warm-up game on August 10 against Italy.