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'Hard to describe without profanity': Rory Best slams Ireland's sluggish performance in heavy defeat to England

Rory Best
Rory Best

Ireland captain Rory Best slammed his side's display as they missed 34 tackles and looked sluggish in defence in the 57-15 thrashing at the hands of England at Twickenham on Saturday.

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It was a dismal World Cup warm-up performance by Ireland off the back of an underwhelming Six Nations campaign this year which they went into as favourites.

“We can be a lot better and we have to be a lot better," Best said.

"That is not up to the standard that we set ourselves. It is hard to describe it without using a lot of profanity.

“We’re going to have to take a look back at that (lineout malfunction and missed tackles). It will not be pleasant viewing but we’re going to have to get better. We’re nowhere near where we need to be. The only positive to take from it is that it’s the middle of August and not the middle of September.

“But, even so, that’s not an excuse for us, it’s just the reality of where we’re at. We’ve got to be a whole lot better than that.

"As a pack, we’ve got to give our backs a better platform to work off and whenever we get that platform, we’ve got to do better stuff with it. We’ve got to defend better and right across the board, we’ve got to improve significantly.”

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A listless Ireland side offered little in attack other than tries by Jordan Larmour and Bundee Aki, and their set-piece was wayward with the lineout unusually chaotic.

"There's a malaise about the team, you can't blame individuals," said coach Joe Schmidt said, tempering his remarks by saying he had expected a heavy-legged performance given Ireland are further behind in their preparation than other teams.

The Ireland coach did not sugarcoat his assessment of flyhalf Ross Byrne's performance, who failed to make the most of an opportunity in the absence of Johnny Sexton.

"It was tough for Ross, you want some set-piece ball on the front foot and Ross didn't get that opportunity, it was also a tough day defensively with some big men coming down his channel," Schmidt said.

He also complained about a breakdown in backroom communications that saw scrumhalf Conor Murray return to the field after passing a head injury assessment, contrary to pre-game plans to replace him shortly after the half.

Ireland will be anxious about the fitness of prop Cian Healy who limped off with an ankle injury.

"Cian sprained his ankle, he's had an X-ray, he walked from the pitch so that's a good sign," Schmidt said.

Ireland have less than a month before what should be a testing World Cup opener against Scotland in Yokohama, albeit their celtic rivals have been less than convincing in their own warm-up games.

Schmidt said he was likely to bring in a host of experienced players such as Sexton, James Ryan and Robbie Henshaw for next week's game in Cardiff, where Ireland can expect a raucous atmosphere in Wales coach Warren Gatland's last home fixture.

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