Joe Schmidt has revealed that injured Conor Murray wanted to play through the pain barrier with a shoulder injury in the defeat to Wales.
Conor Murray got a stinger and the shoulder improved sufficiently at half-time and he felt he could probably have played on,” said Schmidt.
“But his passing wasn’t as sharp as normal, there was a 15% or so deficiency so we thought it was better for him to come off. He was keen to stay on.”
Schmidt was frustrated at some of the refereeing calls made by Wayne Barnes but stressed that the decision to penalise Robbie Henshaw, when Rory Best was on the verge of scoring a second-half try, was “accurate.”
And he defended claims that his side have become predictable in attack.
“We had seven linebreaks each, we played with width, sometimes the ball was slow and the only thing that favoured us was the penalty count.
“The fine margins cost us, the yellow card was crucial, they scored ten points while he was off.
“I feel sorry for Johnny, he was trapped in by three players and it is hard to get out of that. A penalty count of 10-4 is tough but in that area, it is a risk.
“The lineout drive at 15-9, if we score that and convert, we go one point ahead and suddenly they are chasing the game. I thought Tadhg Furlong might have got close as well from that charge-down.
“Even in the first-half, CJ Stander goes up the left and we have a penalty advantage but there you are. Wales’ set-piece and defence was very strong.
“When Johnny went off, they were smart and went through his area. We will learn from it and so will the guys coming in, Kieran Marmion coming on in a game of that magnitude. Paddy Jackson kicked a goal and then did
“We can wallow in self-pity or build on this and we can’t afford to wallow. We can finish in the top half and that is incredible important for us.
“It’s hugely frustrating to get over the line and a player gets sanctioned appropriately for making an error. He had a super game but you learn from those experiences.
“We got in the 22 and the ball was slowed down, we got penalty advantages but we lost a lineout of one of them and we made errors.”
Schmidt and captain Rory Best refused to accept that his side have retreated into their old inconsistent ways.
“I don’t think we have taken a step back, this competition is always incredibly intense. In November, you get to play at home normally.
“We have done some really positive things tonight, our line-speed early on put them under pressure and we were unlucky not to get more,” added Schmidt.
Captain Rory Best added: “When we spoke about consistency four or five years ago, we had good and poor performances. Now we are making errors and not converting chances, it costs you dearly.
“We always try to be better and win the next moment. Our performances hit really good levels, it is just errors that let us down.
“Wales defended our lineout well tonight and we lost a couple of important ones, we moved to where they were guessing.”