Captain Brian O’Driscoll wants Ireland not to spend too much time dwelling on the problems they have had in satisfying referees as to the legality of their scrummaging.
Once more the scrum was a problem area for Ireland in their Championship match against Italy last weekend.
But O’Driscoll advised: “You just can’t get too hung up on it.” And pointing to the bigger picture as seen by a man who lines out well away from that particular setpiece he suggested: “There are plenty of other aspects of our game that we’ve to crack, particularly from a back line point of view.
“Obviously it’s a great attacking platform if you can get a good scrummage but it has been so up in the air the last while that you have to work hard on other aspects of your game and you practice them during the week — like your counter-attack, your phase-play, because you can’t be guaranteed the scrum ball is going to come to the No 8’s feet and you’re going to be able to play off it.”
Admitting that it has been “a bit frustrating from our point of view” the Leinster ace was philosophical about the scrum situation.
“There’s not much we can do about it — just keep hammering away and ensuring that the scrum ball we do get is put to good use,” was his reasoning.
He was refreshingly blunt, too, in his assessment of the mistakes of which Ireland were guilty in Rome, refusing to hide behind the excuse that the Italians’ suffocating tactics had been responsible for a rash of lax handling and sloppy passes. He doesn’t expect the French to be any less aggressive.
“A huge amount of the errors were just down to individuals. Sure, there was a bit of pressure put on — like the ball lost in contact — but at the same time the guy in possession has to look after the ball; it’s of the utmost importance,” O’Driscoll said matter-of-factly.
“When you know you’re not going to score yourself it’s about trying to recycle and make sure you score off the next phase or the one after that.
“We didn’t do that. We probably lost our patience and tried to score a bit early at times, and maybe thought we were getting over the line when we weren’t.
“It’s individual responsibility for holding onto the pill and definitely that’s something we have thought about — collectively and individually — this week.” Stressing that there was no need to lambast players for mistakes, the captain said: “They know themselves. I know myself the couple of errors that I made.”