Thursday 22 August 2019

Stander insists Ireland can step up again despite loss of Van der Flier


CJ Stander Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
CJ Stander Photo: Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

CJ Stander says Ireland will grow into the Six Nations after needing a late Johnny Sexton drop-goal to beat France in their opening game on Saturday.

Despite leading by nine points at the start of the second half, Joe Schmidt's side lost their way at the Stade de France and found themselves behind with less than 10 minutes to go.

They pulled the result out of the fire and know they will need to improve if they are to build on the win and compete for the title.

"We will be playing more and training more together, and I think if we learn from our mistakes, hopefully, there will be a step up (in performance)," Stander said. "We'll need step-ups in the small battles in the games and make sure we look after the ball a bit more and give Murr (Conor Murray) and Johnny a cleaner base.

"If you take it game by game and fix what you need to fix from last weekend... there needs to be a step up. We need to push on as a team."

Suffering Josh van der Flier will play no further part in the tournament having been ruled out for the rest of the season after suffering a serious knee ligament injury in Saturday's win.

Dan Leavy is expected to replace his clubmate in the team, with Jordi Murphy and Jack Conan competing for a bench spot. Jack O'Donoghue has been added to the squad.

Dave Kilcoyne has returned to the panel, meaning James Cronin has returned to Munster along with Andrew Conway who is out of this week's meeting with Italy. Leinster's uncapped winger Barry Daly has been drafted in.

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Meanwhile, the Six Nations investigation into France's use of the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) on Saturday has moved to its second phase.

"The HIA Review Panel, which is chaired by Roger Morris (Wales), will consider the incidents and report to Six Nations," a statement read.

"It can make recommendations (among other things) as to further education and training that is required, and/or whether disciplinary action should be taken."

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