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Thursday 16 August 2018

Critics wrong: Gaffney

Ireland backs coach defends approach of side but believes decision-making can improve

IRELAND backs coach Alan Gaffney has made a staunch defence of Ireland’s attack, saying "the day I take the flair out of a player is the day I stop coaching".

The Irish players have been derided for the mistakes they made, their indiscipline at the breakdown and the backline’s over-emphasis on running the ball from everywhere against France.

“We’ve got to rely on the judgement of the players. We can guide the players – without a doubt. But, they make the decision and a lot of those are done on the spur of the moment,” said Gaffney.

“I will back every decision the player makes. If we haven’t got confidence in the player, we haven’t got a team. We’ve got to back their judgement. I am fully supportive of that,” he said.

Gaffney also wanted to put to right some of the wrongs held in opinion by those on the outside. Ireland did not abandon their kicking game to run the ball all the time.

“I thought Jonny Sexton played very well that weekend. I know that is something that hasn’t been written. But, I thought he played very well,” said Gaffney.

“There is some contention that he should have kicked the ball here, kicked the ball there. I can only think of two times when they would have been done.

“Just a stat: Jonny (Sexton) only passed the ball 10 times in the entire game. Yet, there is a perception that we ran everything.

“For a 10 to only pass the ball 10 times in a game, that doesn’t give you the idea that we’re running everything.

“The twice that we could have kicked the ball, the boys elected to go. These boys are making decisions in splitseconds. We didn’t execute. In hindsight, we should have kicked. But, hindsight is a wonderful thing.”

On the wider perspective, Scotland are suffering for their inconsistency. They need this one just as badly as Ireland. Does Gaffney think they are lacking confidence?

“They seem to be. It is strange. They went through the autumn and had a very successful time. They recorded outstanding wins in Argentina (last June). You thought they were very much on the up.”

The potential they showed for three tries in Paris was wiped away by Wales in Murrayfield. Quite simply, Scotland never got out of first gear in a match they were favoured to win.

“Last week against Wales, they never got into the game. They never hit their stride. They didn’t play their width-towidth game, putting pressure on defences.

“I don’t think they are far away. We struggle with Scotland. We’ve struggled with them for a lot of years,” he warned.

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