Confirmed: Scottish police re-routed Irish bus on way to Murrayfield
IRELAND manager Paul Dean said Scottish police diverted the squad coach en route to Saturday’s dismal Six Nations opener in Edinburgh - but insisted that the delay played no role in his side’s defeat.
And centre Robbie Henshaw has declared that the incident cannot be used as an excuse for his side’s sloppy start to Saturday’s game and that his side can still emerge as 2017 champions.
“We left the hotel on time and were delayed getting to the ground but it didn’t have any affect on performance,” said Dean.
“We took a different route, enforced by the police. The circumstances were out of our control but we don’t feel it contributed to the performance on the day.”
Henshaw admitted that the disruption didn’t help their warm-up but refused to use it an excuse.
“It certainly wasn’t the norm. When we first got to the dressing-room, we had 25 minutes to the warm-up, usually it is 45 minutes in the Aviva. That would have been a change for some of the lads. It was a change in set-up.
“We’re not making excuses, we were primed and ready to perform from three trainings during the week. We knew what was going to come at us. There are no excuses for the slow start.
“Our main focus is performance, taking one game at a time. People are talking about bonus points this weekend, we just need to get the win.
“There is confidence we can still win the championship based on what we did in November. This is an incredible group and we know we can still win it.
“There is a lot more pressure on us now, we have to win the game and chase bonus points. “So there is more pressure on us and the squad may not be used to it but hopefully it can get the best out of us.”
The availability of Jonathan Sexton remains shrouded in doubt; although Joe Schmidt said he was close to playing on Saturday, Dean revealed that he has only just resumed running.
“He is continuing his rehab and his progress is being monitored,” said Dean of the player recovering from calf trouble.
“He is back running. Johnny would play today if we let him but we have to monitor his recovery.
“At this stage, everyone is in with a chance but we need to monitor some workloads. Everyone wants to play this weekend.
“It’s hard to tell with Peter O’Mahony (hamstring) and Johnny. They could play today but we need to make sure they are ready.
“I can’t make any prognosis, it’s with the medics I’m afraid. We’ll have to see.”
Tadhg Furlong, Andrew Trimble, Donnacha Ryan, Andrew Trimble and Andrew Conway are all expected to train with a view to Thursday selection as Schmidt ponders changes after a bruising review of Saturday’s defeat.
“We had a group review last night and an individual one this morning, it was very frustrating and we’re looking forward to putting it right this weekend,” says Henshaw.
“It comes down to how we started, we felt flat as a group in the game. We gave them time and space on the ball and they punished us in the wider channels.
“Our spacing was narrow and when we got it spot on, they didn’t get a chance after we fixed it.
“If we’d started the first-half the way we did the first, the result would have been different.
“We were sloppy with the ball in certain areas on their line, we were undisciplined at times. We only have ourselves to blame.
“I’m not sure why we were flat, perhaps it was nerves with the step-up. It’s hard to put our finger on it.
“When we had the ball, we showed what we could do when we were flat to the line and attacking them.
“There is frustration but a massive eagerness to get out this weekend and right the wrongs. We’re looking forward to getting back out training.
“It’s up in the air in terms of selection, the management will pick that. We need to do our business in training.”