Saturday 16 December 2017

'We're not a million miles away'- Joe Schmidt urges fans to keep faith in crestfallen Ireland

Tom Rooney

Despite this afternoon’s crushing 21-10 defeat to England at Twickenham, Joe Schmidt remains adamant this Ireland team can escape their current malaise.

Even after giving yet another resolute effort at the home of English rugby this afternoon, a clearly battered and confidence sapped Ireland side were well dispatched of by Eddie Jones’ colossal charges.

 Following a draw with Wales on the opening day that proceeded a one point loss to France, Ireland have not tasted victory since their win over the French in the World Cup last October.

Like the previous two rounds of this trying Championship, positives emerged from the Irish showing, no more so than from debutants Stuart McCloskey and Josh Van Der Flier.

Speaking after the game the Kiwi coach lauded the performance of his tyros and urged the Irish faithful to retain trust in his side.

“There are some positives, but we need to get a result,” said Schmidt. “Don’t lose faith that we will keep building and hopefully that will keep people enthusiastic.

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“Stu got into the game in the second half and showed the big, strong carrier he can be. I thought Josh just grew into the game and got better and better as it went on,” he added.

Once again, Ireland were left to rue a raft of needless and unforced efforts that, even a year ago, would not have materialised. It’s a clear sign that it may not be the design but execution of their offence that is most hindering.

The former Leinster boss took solace from the fact that the visitors asked questions of an England team who looked far more formidable that they have done since the tournament began. What’s more, Schmidt was already looking ahead to Ireland’s final two games against Italy and Scotland.

"I think we showed tried to play positively today and showed enterprise and the young players have shown hints that they can step up to this level, that has to be positive.

"We really challenged England today and they're a really settled team, to be honest it's really tough at the moment for players who take so much pride in their effort and don't get the result but I don't feel that we're a million miles away. We will keep building and hopefully that will be sufficient to get people enthusiastic about what we do in the next two games.”

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