‘A 10-point deficit but we can turn it around’

A defiant Conor McManus insists Ireland have more room for improvement in Saturday’s deciding test in Perth.

Ireland's Conor McManus and Australia's Brendan Goddard compete for the ball in the First Rules Test. Picture: Inpho/Tommy Dickson

The Monaghan man was superb in the defeat in the Adelaide Oval. His 24 points were split over all four quarters, comprising seven overs and three behinds. The Australians traditionaly up the ante in the second test when they are more acquainted with the round ball but the Clontibret man says it can be different this time around.

“It was a tough week in our camp. We had up to seven, eight, nine boys struggling with illnesses and viruses and vomiting bugs. Pearce (Hanley) injured his hand, so we were down to 20 for most of the game. It was tough but the heat wasn’t unbearable and that will stand to us now for next week. We’ve got through that part and we have a lot of improvement to do. The basic skills of our game have let us down and if we can get a wee bit tighter at the back then it’s game on. Ten points is a big lead in this but if you get three overs you’re right back in the mix. We can improve. I think there is more improvement in us than there is in Australia.

“We went 10 points clear at one stage in the second quarter and we sat back and invited them onto us. They had two or three (players) over on us and they ran onto us and kicked for marks quite easily into our full-back line.

“It’s difficult to compete with the size of some of those boys in there but I definitely think we have more to improve on. You take the sickness into consideration and it’s game on for us.”

McManus was foiled twice by Brendan Goddard in attempting to lob the goalkeeper. But McManus is raring to get another opportunity against him. “He did (play well) but he’s not really playing as a goalkeeper. We had one shot on goal and he didn’t get within an ass’ roar of it. If we can get chances, if we get more shots on goal he’s not going to save them. He’s very quick out and he’s very quick to cover that space as a sweeper but I certainly think if we can get one-on-one with him we can punish him.”

The 30-year-old today flies with the rest of the squad to a resort outside Perth, where he was outstanding in the one-off test three years ago, kicking four overs. With more Irish support in attendance and the sickness out of players’ system, he is confident of a victory.

“The Subiaco (Oval) will probably be full next week and there will probably 15,000 to 20,000 Irish there and there will be more noise from our side of things. We’re going to have to rise to it now. It’s a 10-point deficit but we can turn it around.”


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