David Wallace, one of the few Ireland players who was able to hold his head up high in the wake of his side’s humiliating defeat to New Zealand, believes Declan Kidney’s side must impose themselves physically if they are to bounce back with a victory over Argentina on Saturday.
Wallace was hugely frustrated at Ireland’s inability to knock down the All Blacks runners as time and again the gainline was breached.
And with Argentina, who defeated Italy 22-14 at the Stadio Flaminio at the weekend, offering a massive confrontation up front at Croke Park on Saturday, Wallace believes this week will require a lot of hard work in the Irish camp.
“Everyone is a bit down,” said Wallace. “We never came close to scoring. That’s a bit hard to swallow at the moment. We were under a lot of pressure for a lot of the game.
“We held out for a good bit of the first half and it was hard to take conceding the penalty try.
“We would have been going in at 3-3 otherwise, so the most disappointing aspect of that half was conceding that score at that time.”
Ireland coach Kidney made reference to his side’s poor day at the office on Saturday and defence will surely be a focus this week.
“They seemed to get through us quite easily,” added Wallace.
“Maybe not making full breaks but getting that momentum through the contact and then playing off that.
“That is an area we will have to look at because you can not let teams do that to you.
“You have to stop them and smother them; especially a team like the All Blacks and also Argentina, who are next up. We probably didn't have a lot of territory. When you are missing your first up tackles and they are getting in behind you; it's hard to get out of your own half.”
Even though Ireland are safe in their bid to remain in eighth place in the IRB’s world rankings – and thus win a seeding for the 2011 World Cup draw next month – after Scotland’s defeat to South Africa and Italy’s defeat to Argentina, there will be pressure on them to bounce back on Saturday.
Kidney will not want to go into the Six Nations on the back of two defeats and there is the little matter of avenging Los Pumas’ crushing victory in Paris last year which sent Ireland crashing out of the World Cup.
“Last week (against Canada) was a high point and this (losing to the All Blacks) is definitely a low,” added Wallace.
“It’s very early days and a whole new coaching staff. Everyone’s learning to do things different ways.
“Everyone has bought into it (the new regime). On Saturday there were more little knocks-on and things like that that crept into our game and that certainly doesn’t help when you’re trying to implement a game plan.
“We have to move on in one sense but it's important that we learn from today. The areas that we were weak in we have to step up for Saturday.”
As for tonight’s historic clash between Munster and the All Blacks at Thomond Park – some 30 years on from the province’s famous victory over New Zealand, Wallace admits it will be hard to miss.
“You'd love to be involved but Ireland have an important game this week. It has to be our focus. You would like to think that we can absorb the lessons and secure a win.”
Meanwhile, Wallace’s back row colleage Alan Quinlan has urged Ireland to prove Saturday’s defeat was just an aberration by taking their frustration out on Argentina.
“There's always pressure when you lose a game as you don't want to lose two games in a row,” said Quinlan.
“There are World Cup ranking points on offer and I think we’re a better team than what we showed against New Zealand.
“Hopefully we can prove that this weekend. We'll have to look at the video, analyse it, see where we went wrong and try to prepare correctly.
“We need to bounce back. Argentina are a very strong side and have been one of our rivals over the years. Hopefully we can bounce back from the All Blacks defeat.
“If we’d lost and played well, had a really good go, held onto the ball well and stretched them, then we wouldn't be so disappointed.
“We’re frustrated we didn’t play well and string a few phases together and hurt them.”
Ireland name their team to face Argentina, their nemesis at the World Cup, today.