Sean McMahon reporting from the Aviva Stadium
Ireland will be keen to quickly move on from their bonus-point victory over France as they must immediately prepare for next weekend’s trip to Wales which is made all that more difficult considering Ireland’s six-day turnaround.
Ireland’s week, will, in Joe Schmidt’s’s words, be “truncated” and that will pose it’s own challenges as Ireland must allow time for recovery from Saturday’s physical battle with Jacques Brunel’s side.
They also have to contend with a confident Welsh team who just recorded their 13th successive victory and what will no doubt be a boisterous Cardiff crowd who will be keen to roar their team on to a first Grand Slam since 2012.
In Sunday’s post-match press conference, Schmidt spoke about the daunting task that faces his side on Saturday but first, he outlined how pleased he was with Ireland’s performance, especially in the first half.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen, in the last six years, a team control 40 minutes like we did that first-half,” Schmidt said with pride.
“I think the French got knocked back early and it was hard for them to then get back on the front foot, but part of the hardship was that we kept that pressure on.
“To keep that pressure on for the full 40 minutes spoke volumes for the intensity and about the energy that we brought to our game. And also the cohesion.”
The intensity and energy which Schmidt speaks about was lacking at earlier stages of the championship so it will be a welcome relief that it returned in spades at the Aviva Stadium yesterday.
However, the Kiwi knows that with the six-day turnaround and with Wales riding on the crest of a wave with their current form, Saturday will be a completely different proposition for his side, especially considering Ireland haven’t beaten Wales in Cardiff in the Six Nations since 2013.
“You’re right, we need the confidence as well. We need to get back on the front foot.
“In six days time, it becomes a whole different equation. Wales in Cardiff is always a complicated fixture for us.”
“I’m sure the Welsh boys were sitting back, recovered, had their feet up today, watching. They’ll be primed, very much primed for us next week.”
According to the head coach, the focus for Ireland will be very much on themselves and getting themselves right for the final round, rather than worrying too much on what Warren Gatland’s side will bring to proceedings.
“We just need to turn our attention to Wales and we’ll do that tomorrow evening when we get back together in camp and then whether we train on Tuesday or Wednesday this week.
“We’ll probably train on Thursday morning before we fly to Wales and then we’ve got to be ready. So it’s a very, very truncated week for us. It’s a very short preparation so it will be a lot less about Wales than it will be about us just trying to get ourselves organized and ready to go.”