Ireland winger Keith Earls has slammed supporters who have been using social networking sites to abuse Irish players in the wake of Sunday's nervy 21-18 victory over Scotland.
Declan Kidney's side scored three tries to none in Murrayfield, but their high penalty count allowed the Scottish team to fight its way back into the match and, afterwards, Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll, props Cian Healy and Tom Court received heavy criticism from their followers on Twitter.
Earls, who had one of his finest games in a green jersey on Sunday, rallied to his team-mates' defence yesterday, labelling their online abusers “ridiculous”.
“I have no interest in Facebook or Twitter or anything like that,” said the 23-year-old. “I heard what happened because we were in the team room after the game and Cian Healy and ‘Drico’ were getting comments.
“A fellah was telling Drico to ‘pack it in'. Absolutely ridiculous, they shouldn't be following them if they are going to be abusing them. The lads are good enough to let them know what's going on in their lives and they just come back talking b******t.” Earls was the subject of heavy internet criticism himself in 2009 after a difficult start to the Lions tour and says that experience taught him not to read internet opinions after matches.
The Limerick man overcame his difficult start in South Africa to perform well for the Lions and now only seeks out the opinions of trusted colleagues and friends as well as his father, former Munster and Young Munster flanker Ger.
“I learnt from the Lions tour that when I do read chat-rooms or whatever on the internet and you read the negative stuff, it can have an effect on you,” he said. “It can drive you mad, you end up trying to prove people wrong when you should only really go by what your team-mates think, that's the only thing that matters.
“I would talk to my dad a lot and Keith Wood as well. He knows the game and the media stuff inside out.”
Mike Ross accepts Ireland must address their discipline problem in time for their penultimate RBS 6 Nations assignment against Wales.
“We're going in the right direction but it's frustrating that we win the try count 3-0 but are still fighting for the result with 10 minutes left,” said the Leinster prop.