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Eric Miller: Irish revival starts now

IF Ireland can manage to get over their current woes, then two wins from two will right many of the wrongs that have scuppered the progression of this team.

A week is a long time in rugby and at this point it would be easy to get bogged down in talking about where Ireland may finish in the Championship.

The players at this last real pre-World Cup competition should only judge themselves in a global context even if we somehow manage to sneak a Triple Crown in the process.

Those who are narrow-minded may laugh at such an idea, considering how much we have let ourselves down.

However, there are positives to build on, despite the challenges that lie ahead. It is hard not to believe that this team will come out against Wales with a changed attitude.

By all accounts the players were given a dressing down by their coach, so one hopes they have reached rock bottom in sorting out key areas such as the breakdown and lineout, but most notably their discipline.

Those who have been critical, including myself at certain stages, only crave to see these players working as one unit and to the best of their cumulative ability.

Because we have fallen short of that on too many occasions, some of the hard questions have had to be asked.

The one positive that has come out of all the negativity is that all involved have been forced to take a long hard look at things, so one would expect that the true face of this side will be seen over the coming weeks.

But one feels that we will then be in a much more informed place about the direction that this team is going.

Playing games against Wales, where recent history has boasted many successes, I did always feel a great freedom, as they have generally taken a similar attitude to ourselves in their approach.

Hence, some of the great matches that have been played at the Millennium Stadium have provided good memories for most of the players in this Irish team. One expects that Wales and Ireland, for all the flak they have both taken, will again throw the shackles off for another open match.

One suspects Wales will want to target us up the middle in the early stages. For the likes of Ronan O’Gara and Gordon D’Arcy, it will be a massive day defensively not withstanding the team’s overall responsibility.

For Wales, while they always look good at what they try to do in attack, they generally lack any real potency to make full use of the good ball they generate.

If Ireland can stay patient and trust a defensive system that is beginning to find its feet, it should give the Welsh nowhere to go.

Ireland should focus on being a little more patient and methodical in possession. We possess more game breakers in the backrow and on the outside, so time on the ball is needed to make our best players much more influential in the game.

I still believe that continually having a single line of attack in multiphase does make it easier to line up our big runners, who need to work a bit more off each other’s shoulder, rather than a move ending abruptly after the odd individual burst.

Confidence should be high for this one. Despite O’Gara’s ability to utilise the boot, if there are to be more throw-ins, Ireland not only need to win more quality ball, they will need to contest the opposition’s lineout more.

If a game of that nature takes shape, the services of Leo Cullen could be well employed. Ireland do have a lot to do to improve their game but, watching some previous games at a second glance, much of what they’re doing well has gone unnoticed.

Unfortunately, it has all been undone by the poor aspects of their game that remain fixable.

If we can keep creating the same chances and the other stuff comes together, then we can begin to dream about knocking the English off their perch.