O'Leary issues rallying call

 

Scumhalf Tomás O'Leary has produced a more damning assessment of the 22-3 defeat to the All Blacks than his captain or coach and warned of the need to "produce" in next week's "massive game" against Argentina. After three narrow defeats in the last three meetings between the two sides, yesterday's result felt like a step back for a side that fancied its chances of toppling the world's best.

Argentina are next up for Ireland, and O'Leary - who produced a solid full debut amid an evening of mediocrity - has warned a significant improvement is essential.

"I don't think anyone could be satisfied with that performance," said the Munster scrumhalf, winning his second cap. "We didn't play any rugby and we have to learn what went wrong in time for Argentina, which has become a massive game now.

"I'm disappointed, because I felt like we prepared well ... I definitely expected more from us - we're capable of much better.

"That's a positive for the future. But it's no good talking about how we good we are or about potential. We need to produce."

With the last batch of precious ranking points - before the World Cup draw is made - on the line against Argentina, Ireland can ill-afford to slip up at Croke Park next Saturday.

Scotland - who host Canada next weekend - are snapping at their heels at ninth in the table, with both teams having one match left.

The rankings determine the seedings for the 2011 World Cup, to be announced on December 1st, and Ireland are desperate to avoid the type of perilous group that contributed to their misery last autumn.

Lamenting the penalty-try that crippled Ireland's resistance yesterday, O'Leary said: "We came under a lot of pressure in the first half and wanted to hold out until half-time. What happened was a double blow really, because Tommy got the yellow card on top of the penalty try - which I thought was harsh.

"For all that, we were still in the game at half-time but never got into it in the second half. We should really have been able to recover from that blow."