Monday 16 September 2019

'There's a lot of stuff we can be better at' - Ireland coach Murphy says team has room to improve ahead of World Cup

1 November 2018; Defence coach Andy Farrell, right, with kicking coach Richie Murphy during Ireland rugby squad training session at Toyota Park in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
1 November 2018; Defence coach Andy Farrell, right, with kicking coach Richie Murphy during Ireland rugby squad training session at Toyota Park in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Assistant coach Richie Murphy has eased fears that Ireland may have peaked too soon ahead of next year's World Cup.

Ireland are riding the crest of the wave having beaten the All Blacks last weekend but when the squad reconvened in Carton House on Sunday evening, it was straight back down to business.

A new-look team is set to take on the USA at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday evening and that in itself brings about its own challenges for a coaching staff,who are eager to ensure that the standards do not drop.

The review has already taken place of that historic victory and Murphy insists that Joe Schmidt and his backroom team have highlighted several areas where they feel Ireland can improve.

"Well, we've done a review process and we still feel there is a lot of stuff that we can be better at," Murphy said.

"The one thing that I would say about this team, this group of players and management staff, is that we're always looking to improve.

"There's never been a situation where I've been in where that's good enough, do you know what I mean? I think with what's coming up, obviously this match at the weekend and leading into the Six Nations, we'll be trying to find another gear and that's just the way it has been.

"Guys, obviously, who play on Saturday have last Saturday to compete with. It's their last opportunity in the green jersey for this period so they will want to go out and leave that in a really good place going into what will be a busy period for them over the December Heineken Cup games and so on.

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"So, I think it's a great opportunity, there's a nice buzz around training this morning. The focus is definitely switched. We're in a situation here where you don't get to sit back and enjoy what has happened for too long, you just got to move on to the next game."

Having worked closely with Johnny Sexton over the last few years, Murphy backed the Ireland out-half to win the World Rugby Player of the Year award in Monte Carlo on Sunday night.

"I think it's very fitting," Murphy added.

"I've known him since he was in the Leinster academy and he's always been a very driven player, massively talented and an unbelievable head for the game.

"I think that's where he stands out for me above a lot of the other players who are out there, his ability to see things on the pitch and pick the right options.

"I think he's in a really good place. There have been some high parts of his career and I think he's in one of them at the moment.

"He's in great form, he's working hard, his fitness levels look really good. I think he's in a really good place at the moment.

"He's still the guy getting off the line making the tackles. I remember last season in the Six Nations, him having a pick and go near the line, so, that's not a guy who is trying to look after himself.

"I think his ability to stay on the pitch is probably, maybe his fitness levels are a little bit higher than what they were 12 months, 18 months ago maybe."

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