Sport

Tuesday 24 October 2017

O'Brien: Wales defeat was a lesson

Sean O'Brien scored two tries against Scotland
Sean O'Brien scored two tries against Scotland

Sean O'Brien believes blowing a Grand Slam in Wales "might not have been the worst thing in the world" as Ireland eye the World Cup after retaining their RBS 6 Nations title.

Leinster flanker O'Brien grabbed two tries as Ireland thumped Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield to claim back-to-back Six Nations titles for the first time since 1949.

The 28-year-old backed up scores from captain Paul O'Connell and centre Jared Payne as Ireland denied England the title by virtue of points-difference.

England saw off France 55-35 in a madcap Twickenham encounter, but fell foul of the triple-bill Super Saturday set-up for the second year running, six points short on the target set by Ireland.

Happy to embrace hindsight with the title secure for another year, O'Brien believes defeat to Wales must now act as a harsh World Cup lesson for Joe Schmidt's men.

"Looking back now it might not have been the worst thing in the world," said O'Brien, of Ireland losing 23-16 in Wales to spoil their Grand Slam chase.

"We know we can learn and move forward.

"That was the biggest thing to come out of last week: that we didn't do our jobs correctly and we didn't do what we did during the week.

"If we approach the game like we did today, for instance, make sure everyone is going 100 miles an hour, we know we are never too far away."

Ireland's third Six Nations triumph in six years tees head coach Schmidt's men up nicely for the autumn World Cup in England.

Schmidt's impressive transformation of Ireland's fortunes raises hopes that his side can reach a first World Cup semi-final later this year.

Head coach Schmidt's ultra-tactical approach came under fire after defeat in Wales, with Warren Gatland beating his Kiwi compatriot at his own game.

Ireland rediscovered their attacking rhythm in Edinburgh however, their four tries against Scotland matching their previous tally for the entire tournament.

O'Brien is adamant Ireland can play whatever brand of rugby required to get the job done under shrewd boss Schmidt.

"There has been a lot of talk about the style of play the last few weeks but defences in this competition are very strong," said O'Brien.

"With analysis and what not, they are able to close people down and the quality of player and strength in depth, you have really good players playing against you.

"You have to bring them to a place where they are under a lot of pressure and maybe we haven't done that in the last few weeks.

"But we can be very proud of ourselves today of how we approached the game and did our business.

"I wouldn't say it was a different style (against Scotland).

"We have been trying to play a bit like that the last few weeks but we haven't been, and we've let ourselves down at times with our own errors as well, letting teams into games.

"But we approached it the right way against Scotland, did our jobs, and it paid off."

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