By Brendan O’Brien
Conor Murray insists Ireland are “not far off” their best as Joe Schmidt’s side bids to claim a first win in this year’s Six Nations when they face unbeaten England in Twickenham on Saturday afternoon.
A draw with Wales and one-point loss to France speak volumes of the tiny margins between hero and zero so far with the side’s inability to keep the scoreboard ticking over in both encounters thus far proving to be costly.
“It has been a frustrating review of the (French) game because we left a lot of chances out there,” said Murray on Monday afternoon. “We didn’t score, definitely in the second-half and maybe another 15 minutes with that so, yeah, disappointing. It was a missed chance.
“That was the feeling in the group after the Wales game (as well). There was a very positive feeling after that game. It was a really tough Test match and we performed quite well. Then to go to France and not perform to the standards we had set was quite annoying.
“Yeah, we have reviewed it and we picked up a few areas we can improve on, in particular taking opportunities. Our game is in a good place. We’re not that far off at all. You saw that in the Welsh game and from the Welsh game to the French game was only one week.”
The squad hasn’t been helped by a succession of injuries and centre Jared Payne was the latest to emerge as a concern when team manager Mick Kearney revealed it was a “wait and see” scenario for the Ulster Kiwi this week.
Payne picked up a hamstring injury in the loss in Paris two weekends ago and, though he is said to be on course to train on Tuesday afternoon, there is a history of injury updates proving to be off the mark from this Irish camp.
Jonathan Sexton was due to train Monday afternoon despite rolling an ankle in training last Friday.
The out-half was stood down from the majority of that session in Mullingar as a precaution, but he was set to join Simon Zebo (knee) on the paddock today.
Tadhg Furlong and Rob Herring have not rejoined the squad due to thigh muscle injuries while a squad update released on Monday morning revealed that Ulster wing Craig Gilroy, Leinster flanker Jordi Murphy and Munster lock Dave Foley have all been called up.
Cian Healy and Mike Ross have also joined up with the national squad having featured twice for Leinster in the last two weeks on their own returns from injury. They will be needed away to an England side rejuvenated under new coach Eddie Jones.
“It's a great stadium, the bus ride in is amazing and it's a great buzz,” said Murray. “It's more the English team at home is a really strong unit. It's hard to break down, it was 13-10 the last time we played them and it was a really tough Test match.”