Tuesday 6 December 2016

Jerry Flannery: Best attack in Pro12 will ask serious questions

Jerry Flannery

Published 23/10/2015 | 02:30

Munster strength and conditioning coach PJ Wilson, left, and scrum coach Jerry Flannery before squad training
Munster strength and conditioning coach PJ Wilson, left, and scrum coach Jerry Flannery before squad training

Looking at the Irish performance on Sunday I was hugely disappointed for the lads. It's difficult when you see how much effort they have put in and how long they have prepared for this.

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There were a couple of moments when I thought it could have been a rout, but then at another stage Ireland had come back into it and could have finished it out.

At the end of the day Argentina were the better side and it really struck me how comfortable they were, how quickly they transitioned on turnover ball and how they used their width to stretch Ireland.

Ireland were passive on defence. Their line-speed was down and when teams play with such width you cannot afford to stand off them.

Argentina started like a freight train and took their chances, and when a side is missing four of its biggest names it is always difficult to chase a game.

The lads that came in - Madigan, Henderson, Henry and Murphy - all have their attributes and bring their skill-set but it's difficult to have a new group get up to speed at that level.

Every part of preparation for the World Cup is about building depth and Ireland seemed to have cracked that approaching the tournament.

You are not going to challenge at a World Cup if you don't have replacements for the front-line men. Ireland could have coped without one or two of their leaders, but to lose four was going to impact on the team's performance.

Chin

I was disappointed as an Irish fan, but you just take it on the chin now and move on. The lads will need to pick themselves up and learn from that experience.

From here on out, it's hard to look past New Zealand. I could see themselves and Australia contesting the final, and the All Blacks should win.

I know they played a tired French side last week but they really ripped them apart. They have peaked and are difficult to stop.

Back home at Munster, we have arguably the toughest game in our 16-week block this evening at Scarlets, and hopefully we can keep riding this wave.

I was delighted with the win over Cardiff. At certain points, Cardiff could have got away from us but we stuck in there. Ian Keatley and Mike Sherry had fantastic games.

Overall we didn't have a lot of missed tackles, we just had some system errors and they were big ones, so they cost us. We need to get those inaccuracies right and learn.

With Scarlets up next it's good to address these areas during the week so that we are prepared for tonight - in terms of attack they are probably the best team I have seen in the Pro12 this season.

They score close on 30 points a game when they are at home. So if we start missing tackles it could end badly, so we have to be really careful.

All of their players are really comfortable moving the ball and if you look at the tries against Leinster, they moved the ball from one side to the other at ease.

All of their forwards are comfortable at taking the ball to the line and pulling a pass back, which gives them the ability to get around teams, and from watching the Ireland game at the weekend you see how dangerous that can be for any side.

DTH Van der Merwe made his debut for them last weekend and he has already got a couple of tries so we are going to have to keep a close eye on him.

You would hope that if the job is done early doors, the ball won't get out to him. He is very clinical and is one of the form players in world rugby, so we have to cut down the opportunities that he gets.

That all starts with the set-piece, an area they are very strong in also. Statistically they have got the best scrum in the league on their own ball, and loosehead props Rob Evans and Phil John are both very destructive.

Their back-row is excellent too: James Davies at seven, John Barclay at No 8 and Aaron Shingler at blindside. Shingler runs their lineout as well so they have got some really good players across the board.

But first and foremost our focus coming into this week is to look at ourselves and we know it's going to be a tall order over there, it's one we are relishing and it would be nice for an Irish team to get a win in Wales after the week that was in it.

Irish Independent

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