Devin Toner explains what went wrong with Ireland's line-out last week

If only Wales hadn’t competed…

IRELAND LOCK DEVIN Toner has felt the brunt of some extra bite in training this week.

And as a result he’s confident – though, typically, quietly confident – that his pack can right the wrongs that led to a first defeat in 11 Tests last weekend.

Mike McCarthy, Jack McGrath and Devin Toner Mike McCarthy grabs a feel of the people's elbow. Morgan Treacy / INPHO Morgan Treacy / INPHO / INPHO

“Obviously we put a lot of work into this week,” Toner says with a bemused look as he towers over a huddled mass of reporters in Carton House.

“We all know we let our standards slip last weekend. Losing four is unheard of. We can’t win a game losing four line-outs so we put a lot of work into it this week.”

Of course, one line-out stands out from the rest. With panic already setting in to the watching public with Ireland nine points down, there was hint of desperation about over-loading a line-out with heavy backs like Tommy Bowe and Robbie Henshaw as early as the 21st minute. Toner explains his view of the malfunction.

Where we tried to go to the ’15-man’ line-out, it was exactly the same as England threw against us but I got at the tail-end of the line-out. A lot of teams stay down [to defend], a lot of teams go up. We were not expecting them to go up.”

The crooked throw from Rory Best didn’t help matters either, but locks and hookers are loathe to criticise each other in public view. Such matters have already been pawed over relentlessly in the team room and Toner says, “there is not a huge amount to set right but we did a bit on it this week to rectify it.”

Tomorrow, winning is a minimum requirement for the Six Nations champions as they aim to become the first Irish side to defend the title since the 1948-49 victors*. One defeat will not dismantle the confidence of this side, never mind the ability. So Toner feels a timely reminder of team orders would serve players better than a metaphorical kick in the arse.

“It’s a week for rallying the team together. I’m not going to say we lacked passion last week but we’ve got to put the head down and meet them front on this week. In defence, we didn’t come off the line against Wales. We soaked tackles, let them get over the gainline, so we just got to get in their faces this week.

“I just can’t put my finger on it [the loss to Wales]. We know we were up for it. We know we were prepared for it. There was just that cutting edge that we were lacking and just fell by the wayside.”

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