herald

Sunday 20 January 2019

Eric Miller: Our problems stem from a lack of trust

Infuriated and frustrated -- that sums up my overall feelings. The immense struggle over the finish line was, again, a result of Ireland's own doing.

We allowed an inferior team to hang in, although credit must go to the Scots for at least looking like a side who knew what they were doing despite their limitations.

What they did, they did well, and they did it in numbers, performing like a team who were trying to pull a little more for one another.

Scotland were much more accurate at the breakdown, in part because they ran better support lines, which helped them retain the ball longer.

Apart from the obvious mistakes and indiscipline that continue to undermine our efforts, the apparent lack of a clear and clinical mindset, which should empower a relaxed approach towards the job in hand, is tripping us up time and again.

Many will point to a lack of confidence, but if you cannot play confidently and with clarity against a weaker side questions must be asked.

Players have to take personal responsibility for their own mistakes and one understands that a large amount of focus must be placed on such things but it begs the bigger question of why some players are displaying a lack of trust in their team-mates by being their own judge and jury in certain elements of the game. It does not sound pretty but, to be blunt, our team looked like 15 individuals, all trying hard, armed with a body language of playing 100pc for the jersey, however, without any real flow or cohesiveness, despite some individual brilliance.

One has to ask at this stage are they doing everything in their power for the man next to them? Ireland, when they did manage to string the phases together, looked good. But it was too little too often.

When our runners broke the line, our support was a fraction of a second slower getting there to secure possession. Invariably, Scottish hands got in on the ball, allowing their defenders to upset scrum-half Eoin Reddan, in particular at the base of rucks on many occasions.

In Ronan O' Gara we had a player who set the tone in what was a fine performance. He looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders at the end of the game, clearly feeling he had played his part, despite his team's failure to put the opposition to the sword.

I do not want to scaremonger regarding why we are continuing to underperform, but something deep-rooted underneath the surface is affecting the flow of a team that should be ready to take on the world.

Whether the message from the coach is getting confused, whether there is tension or negative feelings between team-mates, one can speculate...but at this stage the situation is not as it should be.

You can talk about the breakdown, confidence and all the same things over and over, but ultimately the technical excuses wear a little thin when infringements are repeated so often.

The hallmark of recent performances by the All Blacks has been the way they have gone about their game as a unit. They are of the same mindset in relation to what they are doing. That, apart from the obvious talent they possess, makes them harder to beat.

That X factor, or whatever you want to call it, is what our players crave at this moment.

All the other frustrations that could be manifesting themselves in high error and penalty counts may be a result of a yearning for something they want a taste of, but have not yet found in themselves.

A team that wants to reach the peak of its powers has to create an environment where players willingly die for the men beside them.

It was the single biggest reason why the 1997 Lions in South Africa were successful. Without complete trust and accountability, any team will always fall that little bit short.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News