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Wednesday 29 March 2017

Ireland must treat loss to Italy as calmly as win over the All Blacks

Ireland's Richie Murphy Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland's Richie Murphy Photo: Sportsfile

The Ireland train is back in motion and it is full steam ahead for Italy in Rome.

The call for wholesale changes and a revolution of sorts is utterly ridiculous.

There is something intrinsically absurd about a mindset that bathes in the glory of November and one bad performance later calls for heads on a plate. The idea that Jamie Heaslip was playing better than ever for Ireland in Soldier Field and is now, suddenly, surplus to requirements on Saturday makes absolutely no sense.

The Irish are a dramatic lot. There will be days when Ireland do not reach anywhere near their potential, like in Murrayfield.

The All Blacks didn't shred their systems or some of their players when they lost out to Ireland. They simply went back to basics and ramped up the intensity of their winning culture.

They bossed Ireland on the return match and the storm of bad publicity passed.

The Irish have to do the same. They will go back to what they know works and work on it.

"It is all about focusing on Italy and getting our Championship hopes back on track," said kicking coach Richie Murphy.

What the review revealed was that Ireland had enough gilt-edged chances to have taken Scotland in Edinburgh.

It also uncovered a defence that is not thinking on its feet.

Sure, there are systems in place to deal with the opposition. However, the players, especially experienced ones, have to police the principles of Andy Farrell's plan.

Let down

"We felt we let ourselves down," issued Murphy.

"We've picked up a few things that we can get right."

There are worse places to go on a retrieval mission than the Eternal city.

"Going over to Rome is going to be very difficult. They put it up to Wales for long periods of that game."

The first solution to Ireland's recent setback is to ta ke control right from the start, not the 41st minute, or they will be staring down the barrel of an unacceptable second loss in a week.

"We can't go into that game with the same situation as last week. We were too slow out of the blocks," said Murphy.

"We really need to get a good start and stay in the moment."

This demands an uncomplicated two-handed approach.

It is based on being clued in from the first whistle and on executing to the standards necessary.

"Accuracy is going to be key for us," he added.

"We had a look through our video and we seen a lot of situations where we created opportunities and weren't able to taken them.

"We're just going back to our good basics and what we build our game on and try get that right for this week.

"We don't look back anymore.

"It is all about looking forward to Italy."

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