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'You could have all the carries in the world but if you don’t back it up, that’s s**t'

Cian Healy is fired up to put things right at scrum time against the Wallabies.

Murray Kinsella reports from Melbourne

AS A COFFEE connoisseur – he’s a whiskey expert and a knifemaker too – Cian Healy has been nipping into the streets of Melbourne this week whenever he gets a chance, eager to locate the best brew in town.

Patricia Coffee Brewers on Little Bourke Street is his top choice, just in case there are any Melbourne-visiting coffee addicts reading, but aside from his visits around the CBD for caffeine hits, Healy has been lying low.

Cian Healy Healy is fired up for the second Test. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

After a first week in Australia where the players visited water parks, went jet-skiing and enjoyed a few rounds of gold, these past few days have been altogether more serious.

Defeat for the first time in 15 months will do that and sitting with Healy in Ireland’s base at the Grand Hyatt hotel in the city centre yesterday, the sense was very much that Joe Schmidt’s squad are hurting and eager to get back onto the pitch to put things right.

Healy spoke of “a spicy enough” Ireland training session on Thursday as they prepared themselves for a vicious performance at ruck time, where Schmidt’s side dipped last weekend and allowed the superb David Pocock to lead the Wallabies’ charge.

“Everyone is pretty fired up for this,” said Healy. “Even in the week there’s been less going out and about. I’ve been seeing lads in on computers and getting shit right. You just know you need to be switched on more.”

Pocock will have an even bigger target on his head this week than was the case in Brisbane, although he is not the only player who poses a threat to Ireland at the breakdown.

Healy is very often one of the Irish players tasked with hammering rucks, and he feels the solution is simple this week.

“You just have to deal with it. It has to be physical, it has to be fast and we need to be there before them and cut off our rucks before they even think about going in for the ball.

“If our support players aren’t close enough, or there are linebreaks and someone gets blocked, that’s why they’re getting those opportunities.

“So we need to have everyone fully switched on to be there before the man’s on the ground to shut that off and give no daylight to them.”

Cian Healy Healy comes into the team as the starting loosehead. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Of course, the scrum is another major area for Ireland this week and Healy is part of an Irish forward pack that feels they have a point to prove.

He came off the bench along with Tadhg Furlong and Sean Cronin last weekend in the first Test defeat and was part of the Irish scrum that conceded a crucial penalty in the 68th minute.

Cronin has paid the price by being dropped from Ireland’s matchday 23 but Healy and Furlong, along with new starting hooker Niall Scannell, are primed to respond.

“It was a bit messy in the scrum and stuff like that and we haven’t been used to that so we had to knuckle down for the week and set out a pretty specific plan of what we want to do and how we want to get to it,” said Healy.

“We’ve been pretty dominant in all our scrums [in the Six Nations] and we felt they kind of got the head on us there. We haven’t been used to going backwards.”

Ireland felt the Australian scrum was driving left from the tighthead side in an effort to split Cronin from Furlong at that key set-piece.

What can Ireland do better this time?

“Just securing the joints and how the pressure is manipulated through the scrum, where you won’t necessarily need as much coming through me and you can unload the lads and feel the change when the tighthead’s coming at me and load me with more,” says Healy.

“So move it around a bit like that.

Cian Healy dejected after the game Healy after last weekend's defeat in Brisbane. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“It’s another chance to have a shot at them. The battle is everywhere but for us, our main one is in the scrum. That’s what we rank our game on. You could have all the carries in the world but if you don’t back it up, that’s shit. That’s not good.

“So that’s what we rank ourselves on and we have to take a bit of pride in it and put it forward and essentially give the backs the platforms or give the defensive structure the right platform as well to deal with anything.”

Collectively, Healy says he has seen a focused response from Ireland, including the younger players who tasted defeat for the first time at Test level last weekend.

Indeed, it was the first loss at professional level for James Ryan.

“I didn’t know what James was going to be like when it happened,” said Healy. “I gave him a hug and picked him up but I don’t think he needed picking up.

“He’s pretty strong like that and he’s lost games before, just not professional games, so you know how to deal with it.

“We picked up, moved on and got back to work from Monday; just learn from it and put it aside. You can’t cry over it for too long.  You take your learnings and start putting together everything for your next shot.

“That’s kind of the joy of a three-Test tour: it’s not over after one, you’ve another chance to go.”

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Murray Kinsella

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