Monday 24 September 2018

Neil Francis: I was amazed to see the Irish scrum praised after that performance

18 November 2017; Andrew Porter, left, and Cian Healy of Ireland celebrate following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
18 November 2017; Andrew Porter, left, and Cian Healy of Ireland celebrate following the Guinness Series International match between Ireland and Fiji at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Photo by Sam Barnes/Sportsfile
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Joe Schmidt made 13 changes to the Ireland team that beat Fiji 23-20 at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night, and Neil Francis thinks that the new faces missed an opportunity to impress their head coach.

Ireland let a 17-3 lead slip before a late Ian Keatley penalty secured a narrow victory in the second of three November tests.

The Irish pack dominated in the set-piece the weekend before in the 38-3 win against South Africa, but Francis felt that the players brought in to failed to match that display.

Speaking to The Last Word on Today FM this evening, Francis was critical of the Irish scrum and maul against Fiji.

"One week you have Ireland dictating at scrum time and maul time to South Africa and the next week they get no traction," Francis said.

"I was amazed reading some of the newspapers that somebody described the Ireland scrum as rock solid - that is just bulls**t. Against Fiji, if you can't dictate to them at scrum time you are going nowhere."

Francis also felt that the match was a great opportunity to further build a deep squad of players who could contribute at the 2019 World Cup, but doesn't think that many players put forward a compelling case.

"I always think matches like this are geared towards your two year cycle, where everyone is acutely aware of how big a game this is for the guys on the margins," Francis said.

"If you look 22 months ahead and say hopefully we are in a position where we are moaning about the quality of people we have left behind because of how much people have progressed. That match there now, people regressed. It is hard to put your finger on why some areas of the performance were so bad."

Online Editors

Sport Newsletter

The best sport action straight to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport