'We still have a long way to go' - Beirne backs Ireland to hit another level in 2022

Tadhg Beirne says Ireland can build on what was an impressive November Test window.

Tadhg Beirne celebrates after the game.
Tadhg Beirne celebrates after the game.
Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

THREE GAMES, three wins. As far as November windows go, the last few weeks could hardly have gone better for Andy Farrell and his Ireland squad.

The 6 November defeat of Japan was highly encouraging, but came with a caveat given how disappointing Jamie Joseph’s side were on the day.

The thrilling win over New Zealand then really suggested there is something special brewing with this group of players, who then signed off for the international season with a powerful, clinical display against Argentina today.

Nobody will be getting carried away just yet, and those three wins have all been met with words of caution from Farrell’s players. It’s all well and good having a strong November, but this team’s ambitions go far beyond autumn Test windows.

“We’re building and we want to keep building,” says Tadhg Beirne.

“This time last year we knew we were on the way to something and things weren’t clicking at times. Even out there today things weren’t clicking 100%, especially in the first half, we were scrappy at times and when that happens we need to look at that. We want to keep striving to get better and make sure that the way we play is an incredibly difficult way to stop. I think we are on the way there but we still have a long way to go.”

It’s been a constant theme across this run of games. Every big performance has been played down. After the free-flowing display against Japan, Farrell said the defence was the most pleasing aspect of the afternoon’s work. Post New Zealand, the players spoke about the need to want more and stay hungry.

“(It’s) just consistency of performance,” Beirne continues.

“You might look at that (Argentina game) and say it is a really great performance but we will look at it and go, ‘Where can we get better?’

“We want to keep improving, we are not happy with that. We want to keep being better. It is satisfying to get the victory but in terms of performances we know that we can be better and we know what we need to do to get better. To be a great team, to keep striving towards that.”

Beirne has played an important role across the three games, where the dynamism and power of the Ireland pack has been to the fore.

Today he was a late addition to the starting team, slotting in for Iain Henderson in the second row when the Ulster man pulled up in the warm-up. Last night, he had been prepping to cover the back row when Jack Conan complained of a tight quad.

That’s what expected of these players. Adapt, slot in and get the job done.

I got a call off Faz yesterday and I had to meet him and the coaches to talk through the six and eight role. I spent the next 24 hours just going through that in my head and trying to get that laid down and making sure I knew those roles like the back of my hand.  

“I felt comfortable going into the game and the warm-up and then obviously Hendy pulling up and being thrown into that four position but I did the work during the week and I was just excited to get out there. Then there is another spanner in the works when James (Ryan) went down with a HIA and I went from four to five.

“A lot of shifting, but I think everyone dealt with that really well. I think Nick (Timoney) coming in, he showed he was all over his work from the week as well. Ryan (Baird), he came in and was all over his work as well so it just shows that everyone was prepared for anything to happen and everyone played really well.” 

It’s a pleasing situation for Farrell, with plenty of competition right across the team. 

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Munster scrum-half Craig Casey was a second-half substitute, and injected some nice tempo to Ireland’s play across the final 30 minutes.

“Every chance you get to improve is a chance that you have to take,” Casey says.

“Obviously the lads did well, Jamo (Gibson-Park) did really well. You take from what you can from the games, I took from what Jamo did well, brought it into my game and then try to mix the two.

“The competition is through the roof at No.9 so I have to put my hand up every week that I play, when I go back to Munster. We’re going into a few massive games, so it’s a perfect chance to put my hand up and get back into the squad for February.”

Casey, like the rest of the young players in this squad, isn’t happy to just make up the numbers. While Farrell didn’t opt for as much experimentation as some would have liked this month, he has made it clear that if you are good enough, you’ll play.

“I’ve had good chats with all the coaches in camp,” Casey continues.
“They’ve been really helpful, (in terms of) for what they want from me. Obviously they want you to play your game but mix it within what the team needs. I’ve had great chats with Faz and Catty (Mike Catt) over the last few weeks about what they need from me. Obviously playing at tempo is what we’re going to be doing – you’ve seen that over the past few weeks. Bring that, but bring calm and composure to it.”


About the author:

Ciarán Kennedy

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