Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 22 July 2014

So near, so far for Wallace

“We went close, but it wasn’t the result we wanted. We know what we could have done and we’re disappointed that we didn’t manage to do it.”

That was the assessment of Irish centre, Ulster’s Paddy Wallace, in the aftermath of yesterday’s pulsating match in which Ireland snatched a last-minute draw with Australia.

Asked about the move which cleared the way for his midfield partner, Brian O’Driscoll, to touch down under the posts leaving Ronan O’Gara with a simple conversion to tie the scores at 20-20 with the last kick of the match, Wallace was full of praise for everyone involved in its inception and execution.

“The credit goes to the players who did it and also the guys who come up with the idea for a move like that. They do the research. They study opponents by looking at them week after week in order to come up with something you can use to beat them,” said Wallace.

“It was a move we’d worked on in training, but it was a question of being in the right circumstances in which to use it. It worked perfectly, so we were very pleased with that.”

He was also very pleased with his own contribution.

“I enjoyed it immensely,” he said. “I reckon I got more touches in that match than in the whole of last season’s Six Nations Championship. So I really enjoyed myself out there today.”

He pointed to the fact that yesterday was the first time that Ireland had played since the Spring.

“You’re never going to be as sharp as you’d like in a situation like that. Cast your mind back 12 months to our opening match against Canada and it wasn’t a particularly good performance that day,” he recalled.

“Today was better than that, and we were playing against better quality opposition, too.”

He was blunt in his description of the Australian’s opening try, scored after little over two minutes.

“We gifted them that one. It wasn’t the ideal start to find yourself 7-0 down in the first few minutes,” he said. “It was a miss-move we called because if Brian takes the pass we’re in an area where we can play rugby and cause them problems.

“Our feeling was that the Australians might be susceptible if we could play in various different areas and that was one of them.

“In fairness I think anyone would have to say that we showed our intent to play rugby all through and we deserved that late try.”

The plaudits rained in for new boy Cian Healy, including from a man who saw him at first hand in the scrum — Jerry Flannery.

“He didn't seem to be fazed at all,” affirmed Flannery.

“He was sitting beside me in the dressing-room with his music on, bouncing around. It's good to see that. Some fellas you see going white, there was no fear in him.”

Healy didn't pull any punches. “I'm pretty happy with how the day went,” said Healy, before his honesty betrayed Flannery's assertions. “I'd have been a bit happier if we had a better scrum, but at least that gives us something to work on.

“I look forward to playing again, hopefully. These things happen. I've played in some big games at Leinster level too. But the whole feeling was just incredible, the whole buzz about it.”

It was left to his team-mates to flesh out the extraordinary impact made by the 22-year-old. “Cian did pretty well,” mused Flannery. “He made a great run there, he's very powerful with a great attitude.

“He was great to play with.”

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