'When you're beaten like that, it hurts. We need to go back to playing as a team'

John Ryan is set for a big starting chance against Wales on Saturday.

IF, AS EXPECTED, Joe Schmidt shuffles his pack for Ireland’s trip to Cardiff this Saturday, it will be a case of opportunity knocks for one final time for those entrusted with getting the ship back on an even keel. 

Every member of Schmidt’s extended squad will, at this stage, be desperate to be involved against Wales, not least because of what happened at Twickenham but because the Ireland management will finalise their 31 for Japan in the 24 hours afterwards.

john-ryan Munster prop John Ryan at Carton House. Laszlo Geczo / INPHO Laszlo Geczo / INPHO / INPHO

John Ryan is one of those players expected to be drafted back into the matchday squad and the prop is set for his first Test start since the summer tour of Australia in 2017 in what could be an all-Munster front row.

Having come off the bench to play 40 minutes against Italy in the first warm-up game, 31-year-old Ryan acknowledges this is now very much last chance saloon on an individual level, even if all the focus this week is on fitting into the system and righting the wrongs.

“It does sharpen the focus, but again we learnt a big lesson about playing as a team,” he says. “We’d always be about fitting in.

“Obviously lads are vying for positions, it’s the last chance saloon for some boys and so we’re going to go out and try and fit into the system and get a performance.

“If you execute your basics well, if you stick to your scrum, ruck, maul, that’ll go a long way in terms of selection across all the positions.

“I find I’m fit, the set-piece is going well and hopefully I can get in this weekend for a good go.

“I played 40 against Italy, I felt it a bit in the lungs like some of the lads at the weekend. You just need to get a bit more game-time to get on that plane.”

Ryan, set to win his 20th cap, is well aware he’ll need to front up against Warren Gatland’s side if he is to force his way into Schmidt’s World Cup plans, having come through an intense summer of pre-season work.

Although he wasn’t involved in the record defeat to England, the Cork native says the hurt of that performance and result has provided an edge in training this week and it’s now up to the players selected against Wales ‘to get out there and prove that we’re a top three in the world team.’

irelands-john-ryan Ryan played 40 minutes against Italy. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

“These kinds of losses come once in a blue moon, that’s the biggest loss that we’ve had and it’s not something that we’re going to continue,” Ryan continues.

“There’s a bit of ownership from the players as well. As a group of players, we’re all hugely disappointed. We’re not a team that gets absolutely hammered by any team in the world. We can put it up to anyone, so we’re hugely disappointed. It’s about getting back out there and making sure we show the fans and everyone else that that’s not us, that’s certainly not us. 

“We are going back to more team-driven exercise where we’re a chain in defence, we’re set early in attack, and we’re just going to try to have more teamwork.

“I know that’s a cliché but we’re going to work as a team rather than individuals. When you’re being beaten like that, it hurts lads. We need to go back to playing as a team.”

While Sunday’s post-match review must have been torturous viewing, the message this week has been calmly delivered, as Ireland bid to find a resolution to the issues that completely undermined their performance last time out.

“They were fairly basic and very fixable,” Ryan says of the errors. “Most of the lads who were playing are dying to get out there and rectify those mistakes. That’s been the mood this week, look back first and then look forward.

“There’s nothing heated as a group, it’s all calculated and about trying to find those little areas we can get better. Obviously, we can get miles better but it’s a case of applying ourselves and getting back out this week and doing the basics well.”

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