Bitter Pill

Mike Ross: 'Most of us will be in a bad mood until the weekend'

The prop will hope to vent his frustrations at losing on the Ospreys when he goes back to play for his province this weekend.

MIKE ROSS SPOKE passionately last Thursday about how he would need to have international retirement thrust upon him because he certainly wouldn’t be stepping aside voluntarily.

Even as the eldest statesman in the Ireland squad with a hunger for as many Tests as he can possibly get his hands on, losing to England is never an easy pill to swallow.

“We want to win as much as the fans do, and even more so,” Ross said in a gloomy Carton House library today.

Mike Ross Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“Most of us will probably be in a bad mood until the weekend – we want to come in on a Monday happy with our performance and the only way we can do that is by winning.”

Ross still feels a touch short of match fitness after a winter laid up with hamstring trouble, and so he will be released back to Leinster for the rest of the week and get a chance to move on to another challenge a seven days before many of his team-mates.

Aside perhaps from a handful of scrum penalties, the Corkman’s bad mood today wasn’t connectable to refereeing decisions.

Like every other Irish man, he would have loved to be playing against 13 men rather than 14 in the final minutes in Twickenham. But until there’s a rule to prevent Mike Brown or the many Irish players who take the chance to kick at a loose ball, Ross feels it’s all part and parcel of being a rugby player in a ruck.

“If the ball’s exposed you’re going to try to get at it by any means necessary. You can always stick a foot through and kick it out.

It’s part of the game and probably a bit unfortunate that Brown’s heel caught Mur, I don’t think he was trying to do that and there’s no rule against it.

“If you can mess up the opposition ball, you’ll do that.”

As for the ‘what ifs’ around Josh van der Flier’s unrewarded drive over the try-line, the 36-year-old credits England with being ‘cute’ enough to cloud the decision process.

“I know myself if I think it’s been held up I’ll be jumping all over the ruck to make sure there’s no angle for the cameras to see.

“And players are all aware of that. If there’s suspicion people are held up you’ll see people darting in from everywhere. That’s just being smart. So it’s unfortunate, maybe the referee could have asked a different question, but look, it is what it is.

Mike Ross and Donnacha Ryan James Crombie / INPHO James Crombie / INPHO / INPHO

“The two tries we conceded were too soft from our point of view too, they didn’t have to work as hard as we would want them to. So we’ve got to work on that as well.

“If Josh’s try gets awarded and with another man in the bin, the last seven minutes would have looked a lot different, but at the same time we need to take the chances and not rely on the TMO to get us over.

We know we’re not far away, right, so it’s small little things. But it was those small little things that won us Championships before, and we’re not taking advantage of them in the same way as previous years.”

Though there is no tangible prize on offer over the remaining two games in Ireland’s Championship, Ross is a man who exemplifies what it means to wear the jersey. Having waited until  he was 29 for cap number one, he knows just how much Test appearances ought to be cherished.  By facing fellow wooden spoon contenders Italy and then Scotland he would reach 59. Yet for Ross, more important than the numbers, the performance or the gate receipts is the W.

“We want to finish on a high, and two wins is the only acceptable outcome.”

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