'We'll never be taken seriously until we sort out inconsistency'
Brian O'Driscoll has declared that Ireland can no longer claim to be taken seriously as an international Test team of real quality while their rampant inconsistency remains an issue.
Since the Grand Slam success of 2009, Ireland have struggled to garner respect because they have been dogged by wildly inconsistent performances which have seen them fail to recapture their former glory.
"That's been our downfall – the consistency of our performances has not been there," agrees O'Driscoll.
"For us to be taken seriously as a quality Test team, we have to be consistent every time we pull on the jersey. We haven't done that in a number of years.
"That is a great disappointment since 2009. We've had big performances and then very disappointing ones to follow.
"We're very aware of that. It's not as if we're not trying hard. We're working hard at putting that right. But it hasn't really happened for us over the last couple of games.
"The England game was very different to last weekend because it was a liability having the ball.
"But you look back on Sunday and wonder how we managed to lose the match."
However, O'Driscoll refutes any suggestion that last weekend's surprise submission in Scotland was an "embarrassment," particularly given the humiliation of the 60-0 defeat experienced in Hamilton against the All Blacks last summer.
"One of the most frustrating? Sure. One of the most shocking? Probably. But embarrassing? No. I've played in games where we created nothing and were beaten out the gate.
"But we created so much, so I know it's not going to be all doom and gloom. Doom and gloom was New Zealand, 60-0, where we didn't look as if we would ever score a try.
"We created a huge amount in that first half against Scotland and just butchered the final pass three or four times. It's those things in Test matches that are the difference.
"When we come together as a collective, there will an onus on people to speak and be truthful about certain things. We must try and look forward and realise what we have to do to get the next bit right.
"We're not going to go in and talk about what's being said in the papers – that's of no benefit to us. What is of benefit to us is looking at the game and saying, 'that bit was good and that bit bad, that needs to be better and let's do it at training and then in a game'."