THE answers why Ireland are continuing to underperform should be rectified one way or another before a potential mouth-watering battle against England come the last day of the Championship.
Much has been made of Ireland’s self-inflicted wounds and many, including myself, have offered opinions on what could be causing our game to malfunction.
However, one thing will ring clear within the squad when they return to camp. They have still managed to score six tries in the last two outings.
Most of the time, that is sufficient to win three games no matter which way the scores come. That is a great positive and from there much can be built upon.
It’s true that there are certain deficiencies within our game but over the coming weeks it should become apparent if such problems will continue to pull us in the wrong direction or whether such issues can be rectified.
With such a general air of negativity around the country at the moment regarding our present economic woes, one must admit that it is easier to jump on a bandwagon of criticism when our rugby team does not produce. Our rugby has always been one of the shining lights through all the doom and gloom.
Whilst some of the criticism is justified it has not been to the extent that some have gone to through the various social networking sites.
The players will be acutely aware that a big improvement is needed in the upcoming games. And rather than be defensive in response to criticism, you hope the guys begin to open up more to each other as they work through the problems.
I have never been involved in any team where every single person gets on like a house on fire, but the lads must realise that they are all in this together.
How any player feels about his own individual performance needs to be diluted somewhat and viewed differently if his team-mates have struggled around him.
The situation where three or four players stand out with the rest lagging behind, whether by accident or design, has been very obvious.
I believe this Irish team should be working towards developing a mantra of being greater than the sum of their parts.
If the likes of Paul O’Connell, Seán O’Brien and Ronan O’Gara happen to have storming games then their positive energy has to stir the rest to perform above and beyond themselves.
But that connection and energy between players is missing at the moment. They need to play a lot more selflessly, and with that selflessness they will come to realise that they as individuals will excel even more if everyone puts their team-mates first.
This would result in a more reluctant attitude to letting fellow players down when the pressure comes on.
Ireland’s biggest problems are in the top two inches. Any technical issues would be resolved to a larger extent if everyone tries to streamline in the same direction.