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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021

'We can't afford to be passive': Schmidt enthused by debut performances, but bemoans Irish defence in London

With the dust settled on Twickenham, Joe Schmidt spoke about the defeat and the latest injury news in his camp.

Source: IrishRugbyTVOfficial/YouTube

EIGHT STITCHES AROUND Conor Murray’s eye were the full extent of new injury concerns for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt after Saturday’s loss to England in Twickenham.

The Munster scrum-half will likely see his wound heal in plenty of time for Ireland’s next Six Nations outing against Italy on 5 March and he may be joined in the starting XV by Jared Payne, who Schmidt hopes will train fully tomorrow after a hamstring injury kept him out of the clash against England.

More worrying than the latest injury count was the trend of Ireland’s defence sitting off the ever-physical English ball carriers. While Ireland provided an incredible resistance inside their 22 during a first-half onslaught, the home side appeared to make midfield yards a formality at time.

Defensively we can’t afford to be passive,” says Schmidt, “we can’t afford to wait for things to happen. We’ve really got to be as competitive and as combative as we can on that side of the ball.”

Now on a run of four games without a win, well out of the running for the Championship and struggling to put together an attacking structure, there were positive signs for Ireland in the performances of three debutants thrown in at the deep end. Here’s Schmidt’s brief appraisal of how each of the trio went:

“Josh (van der Flier)  grew into the game, got better as it went on.

Ultan Dillane tackled by Dylan Hartley and Dan Cole Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Stu (McCloskey) carried well and is learning every time he comes to training and he got a hell of a lot out of the Twickenham game.

“Ultan Dillane, the 15 minutes he got he made a super impact: getting a line-out steal, obviously making a really good line break as well. Again it was one of those things we were frustrated not to finish on the back of.”

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Sean Farrell

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