Joe Schmidt has lamented “dishevelled” Ireland’s record 57-15 loss to England, conceding his squad must lick their wounds and fast.
Ireland leaked eight tries en route to their heaviest-ever loss to England, with Eddie Jones’ men running rampant in west London.
Head coach Schmidt refused to brand Ireland’s alarming loss a repeat of the bullying they admitted England dished out in the 32-20 defeat to Schmidt’s men in the Six Nations in February.
But the cowed Ireland boss conceded his squad must carry out some rapid soul searching to be ready to face Warren Gatland’s snarling Wales in Cardiff next weekend.
Asked if Ireland’s confidence had been dented by the magnitude and manner of their loss, Schmidt said: “I don’t think so. But inevitably it hurts right now. That’s a big score to offer up.
“There are some elements of the process that we know really weren’t good enough; to miss 34 tackles, to be sluggish in getting ourselves organised as we were.
“I knew we’d be heavy-legged and I knew we wouldn’t be perfect today, because we had had a big workload.
“Cardiff will be a bit of a cauldron to go to, but that will be a big challenge for these players.
“It was a litany of disappointing aspects and uncharacteristic inaccuracy from us today, to be honest, that contributed to our own downfall, and we looked dishevelled.
“We didn’t get our set-piece going, didn’t really scavenge as well as we would have liked. We fell off 34 tackles, 21 in the first half.
“We were underdone, a bit heavy-legged.
“It doesn’t have to be too much of a margin between two teams for one to be a bit sluggish and the other to be on the top of their game. I know we can get better than that, I know we have to.
“The players will take responsibility to do everything they can to turn it around next week and build from that.
“Because what really matters is in four weeks’ time, for the World Cup opener against Scotland.
“You do get some disproportionate scores in World Cup warm-up matches.
“But we still have to accept we weren’t nearly good enough today and we’ve got to be a lot better the next time out.”
Joe Cokanasiga scored twice, with Elliot Daly, Manu Tuilagi, Maro Itoje, George Kruis, Tom Curry and Luke Cowan-Dickie all also crossing.
Jordan Larmour and Bundee Aki scored for Ireland, but the visitors were nearing full-strength and still received a hiding.
Refusing to brand Ireland’s physical besting another bullying experience, Schmidt continued: “Well certainly they’ve got some fantastic athletes, Joe Cokanasiga versus Jordan Larmour, a good big man versus a good little man, so some of that is going to happen.
“Manu Tuilagi, Billy Vunipola, and I thought Itoje had some very good lines.
“But again, we’ve got to be way better than that, to make sure that we can close those guys down.
“I think it was on the back of a stream of possession, we can’t just afford to keep giving them access like that or we will start losing collisions.”
Conor Murray suffered a head injury scare, but Schmidt confirmed the Munster scrum-half passed an assessment.
Schmidt also hopes Cian Healy can shake off an ankle knock in time to contest World Cup selection.
Schmidt added: “Cian sprained his ankle, that’s clear from the X-ray, but he walked from the pitch so we’re hopeful that he’ll be okay.”
Owen Farrell reflected on England’s crushing 57-15 victory over Ireland that saw records tumble at Twickenham by declaring the best is yet to come.
A stunning triumph in the third of four World Cup warm-up Tests signalled that Eddie Jones’ men are genuine title contenders when the global showpiece opens in Tokyo on September 20.
Awful Ireland leaked eight tries – their highest against England – and also collapsed to their heaviest defeat and conceded the largest number of points against their Six Nations rivals.
“It felt good. It’s a step in the right direction. The most pleasing thing is that our best stuff is still in front of us,” captain Farrell said.
“We feel like we are going in the right direction and are building towards something. This is another step along. It feels like there is a lot more in us.”
Lions centre Manu Tuilagi was named man of the match after a blockbusting display notable for a series of rampaging runs to which Ireland’s feeble defence had no answer.
“Manu’s in a good place, he’s got a smile on his face. He makes coffee for everyone every day except me so I’ve got to put my order in a bit earlier,” head coach Eddie Jones said.
“He’s getting fitter. He’s about 80 per cent fit at the moment – we’ve still got a little bit left to go with him and when he gets there he’ll be a handful.
“One of his greatest attributes is people like to play with him. It’s scary if you have to mark him.”
The only cloud over the performance was Mako Vunipola’s departure near the end with a recurrence of a hamstring injury.
Vunipola was making his return after four months on the sidelines but his appearance in the second half lasted just 17 minutes.
“Mako just got bit of a twinge and it was more of a precaution to take him off. Obviously he’ll be investigated fully,” Jones said.
Eddie Jones believes “Kamikaze kids” Tom Curry and Sam Underhill can make the difference for England at the World Cup.
Head coach Jones hopes to field twin openside flanker threats Curry and Underhill in the same back row on Saturday when England host Ireland at Twickenham.
The wily Australian boss wanted to pair up the natural scavengers in the first warm-up match against Wales, but injuries derailed that plan.
Jones believes the ball-hunting duo could hand England a World Cup edge if the Japan tournament revolves around the breakdown and cannot wait to see the destructive pair in action.
“They are like the Kamikaze kids those two,” said Jones.
“Playing two guys who are pretty good at the breakdown might give us an advantage in that area.
“They hit everything. They hit everything that moves. But off the pitch they’re nice public schoolboys.
“We wanted to try it in the first game against Wales. That was the first time they were available to do it.
“In Curry, what I see on the training pitch is a guy who is progressing rapidly.
“Physically, for a 20-year-old, he is incredible. I haven’t seen a player like him.
“He’s strong, fast, he’s got aggressive attitude and he wants to learn. He’s going to get better and better every day.
“If it’s going to be two people over the ball every breakdown we want to be able to do the same thing.
“We’re asking, ‘Is this a strategic (refereeing) move by World Rugby for the World Cup?’ And the answer is, ‘We don’t know’.
“We’ll just have to adapt and find out.
“What we want to be able to do is pick teams who can cope with this.
“You’ve just got to see what’s happening in the game, the number of kicks.
“Why are people kicking the ball more? Because you can’t get fast ball.
“So you’ve got to work out why you can’t get fast ball.”
Bath flanker Underhill accepted Jones’ “Kamikaze kid” nickname for the clear compliment intended, hoping he and Curry can emulate the kind of impact David Pocock and Michael Hooper can boast for Australia.
“I resent being thrown into that category with Tom – he has injured far more people in training than I have, he’s a nutter!” joked Underhill.
“I am glad I am on the same side of him for training.
“But a healthy disregard for your own well-being is pretty essential if you are playing rugby in general, so I will take that as a compliment.
“Australia and Wales are big into it too, Ireland have done it with Dan Leavy and Josh Van Der Flier.
“You are getting to a point where you are not really a six or seven, you’re a flanker, a back-rower.
“I have played against teams with two sevens and it is just a different dynamic and a different sort of contest.”
Sale grafter Curry admitted he cannot wait to pair up with Underhill in the same England back row.
“It’s really exciting, whenever you get to play with someone that talented is pretty exciting anyway, let alone at six and seven,” said Curry.
“Obviously it’s new, we’ve been practising it for a few weeks in training, it has been going well.
“We have to make sure we can learn and adapt in the game as well because obviously it is the first time – get to know each other and see how each other works.”
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