Monday 19 March 2018

Best: Stopping England is not our motivation, we need an 80-minute performance for ourselves

Ireland captain Rory Best (left) walks out with CJ Stander (centre) followed by the Irish team before the Captain's Run
Ireland captain Rory Best (left) walks out with CJ Stander (centre) followed by the Irish team before the Captain's Run

Ruaidhri O’Connor

Rory Best has called for Irish improvements on the eve of their Six Nations finale against England.

The Ireland captain conceded that the defeat to Wales in Cardiff last Friday had taken the wind out of his team's sails, but he has called for a greater focus on the basics ahead of tomorrow's battle with the champions.

England are on the cusp of a world record 19th successive win and a second consecutive Grand Slam if they can claim victory at the Aviva Stadium.

And while Ireland's mission is to derail the Chariot, Best says he won't be using that history as motivation.

"We take too much pride in our own performance, we're well aware of what England are going for. It's St Patrick's weekend, we're at home," he said.

"We've focused on how to beat England, not why. We're pulling on a green jersey, we're at home. We expect a better, more consistent 80 minute performance over this weekend than we have had in this tournament.

"We can't focus on other teams, that's not the Ireland team that has us currently sitting where we are in the world rankings.

"It's been a very tough (week), after any loss it's always hard because boys do feel a bit sorry for themselves; dwell on what ifs, mistakes. The only big difference is scale of task.

"We have to very quickly turn the page, improve on the performance. England have won 18 in a row, and are going for back to back Grand Slams. If you're not prepared and ready it will be difficult.

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"We'll certainly have to be very good, more accurate than last week and that's the challenge.

"They'll make us work hard, we'll have to have a very good performance to beat them."

Best was impressed with how the English dismissed Scotland so comprehensively last weekend to clinch the title.

"They were very ruthless, it's hard to see an opportunity they got that they didn't score from and they're capable of that," he said.

"Scotland needed a big start for their own belief and at Twickenham you don't want to go points down. Going a man down made it very difficult.

"That's the quality of opposition and for us we have to limit the opportunities they are.

"For us, I wouldn't say it means personal but we owe ourselves a better performance.

"Large parts in Cardiff we were happy, but little bits at the breakdown and little knock-ons; from that angle it is personal.

"Everyone's got to play individually really well, but it's got to be about the collective battle."

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