It will take much more from Ireland than they showed against Russia to advance past a World Cup quarter-final. Simon Zebo called Ireland's 35-0 win over the world number 20 side "sloppy" and warned that Ireland will need to improve if quarter-final ambitions or better are to be realised.
“The performance probably wasn’t as good as we would have hoped,” said the former Irish fullback and winger. “It was a little bit sloppy so, expansive and things like that in attack ... it just didn’t look like going into a quarter-final if we could perform like that ... I’d be a little bit nervous you know. So rest up now and see if it improves and time to rest up now and look forward to the next challenge.”
As others did, Zebo saw how Ireland played a narrow game against the Russians, which notably gave the bonus point win before facing Samoa. But overall the performance seemed underwhelming especially with the prospect of meeting South Africa or New Zealand at the knockout stage.
“I thought maybe with a try we’d add a bit more variety in our attack,” said Zebo. “I know conditions are greasy and the ball is like a bar of soap but ... you saw yesterday NZ, the two Barretts knocking balls over the line. They put 60 points on the team so yeah I would have hoped there was a bit more variety in attack. But there’s enough time to get it right. Yeah they’ll definitely know they will have to improve,” said Zebo who was speaking at a Paddy Power event for who he is an ambassador.
Zebo reckons the players will be pleased that they are one step closer to the end of their pool phase and that the four tries were scored. But teams have now seen how Ireland fall back on a particular style of play, which he believes may prove to be a limiting factor.
“The job is done. But the performance will need to get better if you are playing New Zealand or South Africa,” said Zebo. “Predominantly I’d say in attack just one out runners and kicking wouldn’t be enough to break these teams down. So just going forward, maybe a little bit more expansive and I’d say we’d be in a good spot.”