Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Ireland have spirit to defeat England: Healy

In it together: Cian Healy, on attack against Wales last week, has hailed Ireland's team spirit

Ireland must make full-blooded passion their trademark once again to drive towards RBS 6 Nations success, according to Cian Healy.

Leinster front-rower Healy believes Ireland are making "controlled progress" under head coach Joe Schmidt.

The bullish prop hailed Ireland's mental nerve in consecutive Six Nations victories over Scotland and Wales, admitting a steely determination has stemmed from the disappointing 32-15 Australia defeat in November.

Ireland's furious reaction to their insipid show against the Wallabies was to run world champions New Zealand all the way in a 24-22 defeat a week later.

Schmidt's men have upheld that restored grit ever since, but Healy admitted it will come under serious duress against England at Twickenham next Saturday.

"That's always got to be part of an Irish team, in the past we've had the odd performance where there hasn't been that same drive, that thing that Irish teams are known for," said the 26-year-old loosehead.

"Irish teams are renowned for wearing their hearts on their sleeves, and in that sense I think that's becoming a big part of this team again, and it's something that we don't plan on letting slip."

Ireland dismantled Wales' bid for a record third-straight title with a 26-3 victory in Dublin.

Schmidt's bullish pack of forwards and accurate half-backs dictated play entirely, suffocating Wales, with fearsome flanker Peter O'Mahony peerless at the breakdown.

Healy said the Munster captain's infectious attitude is just one positive feature of a driven and focused squad.

"Everyone's had a part to play and it hasn't been anyone really stepping out as individuals.

"We've put the work in, everyone's working towards the goal and it's all controlled progress.

"So Pete O'Mahony has had his thing to do, Johnny Sexton's had his thing, everyone's added something, there have been no lone soldiers, we're going forward as a team and as a unit, and that's the way it is.

"Pete has been excellent. He's around everything, he gets right round that pitch – whenever you hit someone, he's picking you up, whenever you scrum well he's picking you up, it's a good trait."

Ireland's devastating rolling maul will be their chief weapon again at Twickenham, with Healy admitting new forwards coach John Plumtree has helped transform the traditional tight-game ploy.

Fit-again lock Donnacha Ryan's return to Munster action this weekend puts him in the frame for a seat on the bench against England, with Mike McCarthy and Ulster's Iain Henderson also competing in the wake of Ravenhill player Dan Tuohy's broken arm.

Captain Paul O'Connell has been at the centre of Ireland's driving line-out resurgence, and Healy hopes that dominance will continue.

"John's brought in a real confidence about what we can do and what we're capable of achieving going forward," said Healy.

"It's been a good time in training, he's demanded high standards and we've given them.

"Everyone knows what a huge game it will be at Twickenham, and we're all hugely looking forward to it."

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