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How Ireland react to England defeat will be true Six Nations test: Best

 

Skipper Rory Best
Skipper Rory Best

By Jonathan Bradley

Skipper Rory Best believes how Ireland respond to being thumped by England in Dublin on Saturday will be the true test of his side.

Having won the Grand Slam last year, and beaten the All Blacks in November, Joe Schmidt's side entered the Six Nations as heavy favourites to retain the crown and as real challengers for this autumn's World Cup but were humbled at home to the tune of a 32-20 scoreline.

The first of three away games in the championship comes with Saturday's trip to Scotland.

"I've no doubt we'll respond, we'll have to just take this on the chin," asserted Best. "We were bettered by England in probably all facets of the game. We'll get some harsh feedback and constructive feedback and we'll build into next week.

"We know we'll need to be better right across the board. Murrayfield is a really tough place to go and win and it'll be a huge test for us. I think it's important to spend a little time reflecting on what was a disappointing and uncharacteristic performance from us. You have to digest that and you have to use that in the right way."

The result turned projections on their head after just one round of action and, in a wider sense, will change how both Ireland and England are viewed heading to Japan later this year.

Best insists it is too early to suggest the devastating loss is anything more than just a bump in the road.

"When we were putting wins together, we were never getting ahead of ourselves, we never thought we were the finished article," he said. "We want to strive to be better and this is no different now. How we respond will determine whether it's a bump in the road or something more than that but I know, with the group of players we have, they're hurting in there as you expect.

"The first thing we'll do is look at how we can get better. Ultimately, that result, we can't change it but we can change how we react to it."

If there can be one criticism of Ireland during the Joe Schmidt era, they have too often been slow starters and this was another example.

"The disappointing thing for us is the way we started," admitted Best. "When you play internationals, away from home especially, you want a foothold in the game early.

"We let England get that and then we didn't ever get back onto the front foot. That's really difficult.

"I don't think we needed a wake-up call to want to improve but we'll look for ways to get better because we have to get better. We prepared to go out and win a game and we have to make sure that we go back and find out why we didn't get the physical edge that we're used to bringing."

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