Ronan O'Gara did not pull any punches when assessing Ireland's disappointing World Cup opener against the US Eagles yesterday and says they are now “massive underdogs” against Australia.
“We were looking for a big performance and when we woke up this morning the weather wasn't great, but you have to get over these things and play what's in front of you and play the conditions,” said O'Gara, who replaced out-half Jonathan Sexton after 51 minutes in the 22-10 victory.
“When we kept the ball we made it look easy but we didn't do it with any frequency — that's disappointing.
“I looked up at the screen at one stage and I think we had eight to two handling errors. That's too many.
“When you turn over the ball that much, it's hard to get your game going.
“That's the big difference between European and Test rugby, we were probably looking for a miracle pass.
“We're looking to come up with big plays too frequently and we've just got to get back to basics, hold on to the ball and keep our error-rate down.
“We're massive underdogs going into the (Australia) game, we have a lot to prove and I think we have a lot to prove to ourselves.
“The fans were unbelievable and we need to reward them,” he added.
In keeping with the trend of the opening weekend, Sexton had a difficult night with his place-kicking and O'Gara, in his third tournament, put it down to the peculiar pressure of World Cup rugby rather than any problems with the ball.
“No, there isn't (a problem with the ball). It's pressure. I was talking to Johnny inside and we all go through it,” said O'Gara.
“Some days it's very easy and other days it's so difficult, that's the beauty of being a goal-kicker. There are very few of us who understand what it takes.
“These things happen at strange times in World Cups, they are the biggest and pressure gets to people in different ways. It can happen to any of us.
“He's just got to wipe the slate clean from his point of view and move on. I've been there before and that's exactly what you need to do — just don't read too much into it,” explained O’Gara.
Jamie Heaslip struck a positive note after the unconvincing 22-10 win, saying that a tough game against the US in difficult conditions will stand to the team.
“We probably got a lot of cobwebs out of us,” said Heaslip.
“I've only had a game-and-a-half coming into this and a two-week break, so it was great to get in a shift and I know a lot of the lads will be the same.
“We always said if you're going to win this competition you've got to get out of your group.
“I think we're in good shape. We'll assess our game and park that and move on to Australia and see what they're all about.”