Tuesday 20 March 2018

Keith Wood: Ireland need to be playing an awful lot better

Joe Schmidt speaks with his players prior to Ireland's victory against France. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire
Joe Schmidt speaks with his players prior to Ireland's victory against France. Photo: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Ireland legend Keith Wood believes Joe Schmidt’s side will need to take it up a notch when in-form England come to the Aviva in 10 days time.

Ireland played the percentages in their 18-11 win over France and a lot of fans have been questioning the cautious approach.

Wood sees a lot of room for improvement but admits to being impressed with the composure of the players and their ability to execute Schmidt’s plans.

“Ireland tried things that had a proper risk potential, that they were happy with. They didn’t try and flash it everywhere,” he told Off The Ball on Newstalk

“They wanted to go and get the win, they got the win.

“They had an opportunity to score a try and I think they butchered it in the second half and that would have put a far different gloss on the whole performance.

“I’m not saying it’s perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination but I have to look at it and say I’m bloody happy that the composure was there, that our playmaker, who had been out for so long comes back in and his level of accuracy was phenomenal.

“The team looked assured but I think we need to be playing an awful lot better than that. We have to play better than that in the remaining fixtures .

“We could have been flamboyant last Saturday and taken a risk with players who have been out for a long time and put pressure on systems that don’t deserve to be under pressure at this stage.

“We score off 2-3 phases after a set play. We didn’t really get into position to that last week.”

The former Lions hooker believes Ireland will need to rediscover the intensity they played with when they almost got that elusive win over New Zealand in 2013.

“Our intensity last week was measurably lower than against the All Blacks 18 months ago, it was a lot lower. That intensity is something we haven’t hit since,” he added

“I don’t think you can take a backward step against England.”

Jamie Heaslip is out of the England showdown and Wood would like to see the Tullow Tank play in the number 8 position and also believes Iain Henderson is ready to challenge for a starting berth after a number of impressive cameos.

“I’d like to see Sean O’Brien play at 8,” he said.

“I have been a big fan of (Iain Henderson) for an awful long time and he’s another who is coming back after an injury but I also feel you need to have your best players on the field and I feel he’s getting right up there to be in that list.

“Every time he comes on he has a big impact. I thought Tommy was very unlucky having played so well in Italy.

“I’m not saying it for this one but Iain Henderson is properly knocking on the door.”

Online Editors

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