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Ireland set for 'frank discussions'

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Ireland squad set for 'frank discussions' after Twickenham defeat

By PA Authors
By Online Editors

Andrew Conway expects a “few frank discussions” in the Ireland camp as they begin the inquest into the crushing Guinness Six Nations loss to England.

Ireland’s Triple Crown and Grand Slam dreams were shattered after they were comprehensively outclassed at Twickenham.

A sloppy start and costly mistakes from Johnny Sexton and Jacob Stockdale contributed significantly to the first defeat of the Andy Farrell era.

Asked how the team will respond to Sunday’s 24-12 reversal in London, Munster wing Conway replied: “Just have a look back, see what went wrong, have a few frank discussions, make sure everyone’s aligned, everyone’s on the same page.

“These things happen in rugby. I’ve been lucky enough to be playing the game for a fairly long time and luckily enough we’ve got a match in two weeks.

“It’s not the end of the season, it’s not a final, and we’re not going on our summer holidays.

“We’ll have an opportunity to put in a better performance in a couple of weeks and that’s the beauty of the game.”

A fumble from captain Sexton and hesitancy from wing Stockdale led directly to England’s opening two tries, while the former was guilty of some wayward kicking.

Ireland, who began the tournament with successive homes wins over Scotland and Wales, were 17 points down at the interval and never seriously threatened a comeback, despite second-half tries from Robbie Henshaw and replacement Andrew Porter.

Farrell’s men return to action on March 7 when Italy visit Dublin, ahead of a potential championship-decider against current table-toppers France the following week.

Conway had no complaints about the weekend result but believes the Irish remain well-positioned to regain the title he helped win in 2018.

He said: “We just got beaten by a better team, didn’t we?

“If you take away those two errors behind the goal-line they were all over us but that’s two errors that gives them 14 points. When you go 17 points behind against England in Twickenham you’re in a bit of trouble.

“We’re two from three, we’ve got Italy in Dublin next and we’ll put all our concentration into that and hopefully we can get a better performance and a result there.

“And then we’ll see where the table lies and what happens in other games and, all going well, we’ll be going to Paris with the championship on the line, that’s the honest answer.”

George Ford and Elliot Daly pounced on Ireland’s first-half errors to give England the control their dominance deserved before Luke Cowan-Dickie added the clinching try after the break.

Owen Farrell also contributed nine points with his boot against the team managed by his father as the hosts moved level on nine points with their opponents, four behind the new-look French side.

Conway has not been surprised by France’s blistering start to the competition under new head coach Fabien Galthie but insists it is important not to look beyond perennial wooden spoon winners Italy ahead of the possible winner-takes-all trip to Paris.

“I actually thought they were going to beat England on that opening day. I just had that feeling from talking to a few guys and watching them,” the 28-year said of France.

“Watching the young guys who are coming through, (Antoine) Dupoint’s a world-class player, he’s the heartbeat of their side at the moment, (Romain) Ntamack has got all the ability in the world, and the likes of (Virimi) Vakatawa, when they get it right, they get it right.

“I’m not surprised by how they’re going, they’re a great team to watch.

“(However) we can let other people talk about the France game, we know we’ve got a Test match against a fiery Italian side coming to Dublin who will play off the fact that the media and the likes are going to be talking about the French match.

“But that’s for them to talk about, we know we’ve got a tough task.”

Watch: All Blacks star Ardie Savea reveals shock rugby league ambitions.

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Ireland squad set for 'frank discussions' after Twickenham defeat
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