Kiss confident progress made on the consistency front
Ireland scrumhalf Conor Murray in training at Carton House, Maynooth, yesterday photograph: inpho
The issue of Ireland stringing together performances consistently has been a recurring source of concern for the management and supporters alike, and after the encouraging signs in the back to back wins over Argentina and Wales to end the November campaign and kickstart this Six Nations campaign, the defeat to England revived some of those old misgivings.
Citing the New Zealand tour as a reference point, when an injury ravaged and tired Irish squad came close to an historic win in the second Test before suffering a record defeat in the third, Les Kiss maintained progress had been made since.
“We came into a November Series with that consistency thing, that nailing game on game, against a pretty hot New Zealand team, and the boys showed up and made some good strong decisions about what they had to do themselves and as group. Although we didn’t quite get into what we were hoping to do in the South African game, there was some consistency built and we got through to the Fiji game, Argentina game, a Welsh game which was a very good performance.
“We got to an England game, and I think parts of that were very strong. Fundamental dropped balls, others we didn’t get hold of, tanked it a bit. But it is about getting results and we understand that. So I think we’re improving in getting those performances on performances . . . but I wouldn’t say we’re down a path without having something positive there.”
“If you talk to the players, and the way the game plan is out about and how we train it and implement it, there a lot of good things coming through. Obviously one or two little things happen and we win by three there’s a totally different story, bar one small mistake. So we can’t get lost in thinking we’re spiralling down into a poor performance that will destroy confidence. The players have a lot of faith in what we’re about, and it’s about us getting back on the horse and being excited about the next challenge.”
Already missing one-third of the starting line-up from the English game, along with Chris Henry, who had an operation yesterday on a torn meniscal which will sideline him for four weeks, as well as four other high-profile longer-term casualties, at least there was no further damage in the latest medical bulletin from the camp.
As well as Luke Marshall, Brian O’Driscoll and Seán O’Brien trained fully, with only Donnacha Ryan limited to a part of yesterday morning’s reputedly lively session due to a back spasm which is not expected to rule him out of Sunday’s game.
Encouragingly too, further scans on Gordon D’Arcy’s injured foot have ruled out a fracture, and after remaining in a boot for about two weeks the injury will be examined again. Like Mike McCarthy and Chris Henry, D’Arcy is very unlikely to feature against France, though unlike them he could come back into the frame for the finale in Rome.