Joe Schmidt urges Ireland to lick their wounds, and fast, following heavy England defeat

Press Association Sport 10:35 25/08/2019
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Bundee Aki crosses for a try but Ireland were outclassed.

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.”

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