After Ireland’s dominant display in Dublin against England this weekend, we take a look at seven things Joe Schmidt’s side will have learnt…
1.Joe Schmidt Is Possibly The Best Coach In The World Right Now
What Ireland’s victory over England demonstrated best of all was that Joe Schmidt’s side are one of the best coached in the world right now. Their game plan was simple, however they executed it perfectly and stifled an improving England side with a solid defensive display and a proficient kicking game, only reverting to expansive rugby in the English 22.
2.Even With Key Players Missing The Defence Is Impressive
Whilst the Irish attack efficiently went about it’s business, it was their defensive display that really stood out. Whenever England tried to play some rugby they were met by an impenetrable green wall that won a number of turn overs, slowed down English ball and kept their discipline, ensuring the penalty count remained low.
3.There’s Still Work To Be Done On Attack
The Irish offence certainly isn’t of concern, it is however one of the few areas where they can really build and improve heading into the World Cup. With the forwards providing a solid platform to play off, and the half backs kicking well, Schmidt now needs to look at how he can utilise some of the more expansive backs to get Ireland scoring more tries.
4.It Would Be Useful To Try Another Centre Outside Of Henshaw
This isn’t a suggestion to drop Payne, simply that it wouldn’t harm Ireland to have alternative options to mix up the game plan a little. There’s no doubting that Payne’s experience at full back is effective when chasing kicks from Murray and Sexton, however it may not harm to try more of a playmaker at 13 to see if the team can mix it up a bit and give Zebo and Bowe more ball.
5.Keeping Murray & Sexton Fit Will Be Key To World Cup Hopes
On current form Johnny Sexton and Conor Murray are probably the best half back combination in the world. Their ability to control a game has been key to Ireland’s success under Joe Schmidt, it is therefore essential for Ireland to keep the pair fit as their replacements have so far looked a little below par when called upon.
6.Another Number 8 Needs To Be Found ASAP
Whilst there’s no doubting that Jordi Murphy is a quality back rower, he is not a Number 8. Ireland therefore need to focus on finding someone who can step in should Heaslip pick up an injury. Especially when Sean O’Brien went off injured, it became apparent that the back row lacked an out-and-out ball carrier.
7.The Whole Team Need To Focus For A Full 80 Minutes
This isn’t a major issue, however towards the end of the game it became apparent that Ireland had let their foot off the gas a little and allowed England to gain a bit of momentum that nearly culminated in a try. This kind of lapse in concentration could cost dearly against the likes of the All Blacks so needs stamping out immediately.