'The biggest test over the next couple of weeks is around the culture of this Ireland group' - Gordon D'Arcy
Gordon D’Arcy has warned Irish fans against lurching into despair following the record defeat to England in Twickenham last weekend.
Ireland could have become the best team in the world according to the official rankings had they won the match, but the stunning set-back has sent the nation into hysterics as Joe Schmidt’s side begin to wobble ahead of their Rugby World Cup tilt.
"I’m not sure I can calm down the nation," admits D’Arcy, who appeared in three World Cups with Ireland.
"But I think we need to stop being overly Irish for a moment. The pendulum seems to be swinging wildly at the moment.
"If you go back to last November, fellahs were buying World Cup final tickets but now the other extreme is where people are looking to try to sell their tickets and get out of going to Japan.
"Everyone needs to take a beat, pause and see what unfolds over the next two weeks. Nobody gets out of their group or achieves something brilliant by doing something in these warm-up games.
"We just accept what happened against England as an awful thumping. Nobody expected it. England picked a ruthless squad of players full of confidence and we were all blinded by hope a little bit.
"Potentially it could be a really good thing that happened. However, there is a hindsight bias though because if we do have a bad World Cup, everyone will remember these games."
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And while the former Ireland centre believes that many of the issues unveiled in Twickenham are fixable, he was concerned by the poor decision-making from so many team leaders.
"It’s a big assumption that it was just technical. You can see the problems in certain areas but the bigger question is why so many players were making poor decisions.
"Of course there are fundamentals in terms of the line-out. Throw the ball here instead of there. Getting the fundamentals right can improve the confidence but it can be a chicken and egg situation.
"We don’t know how the build-up is different for Ireland to other teams. If there was a secret sauce for coaching, everybody would have it."
"There are so many components to the make-up of a player’s performance. There is the mental, the physical, the emotional. Where are they now in their development?
"The biggest test over the next couple of weeks is around the culture of this group. And how they have really honest conversations, not that the ones before weren’t, but they need to be rigorously open.
"And it needs to be two-way, again not that it never has been, but it needs to become more vocal, and whether that it is from the players or coaches, that has to happen.
"Joe has that trust with his players and that under-pins everything. The coaches can plan everything like a Rubik's Cube but it is the players who need to react based on what they see on the field. Maybe the players need to be more vocal.
"We don’t know what’s happening from the outside. But voices change and maybe new voices need to step up."
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