Fergus McFadden says Joe Schmidt is still the best man to turn around Ireland’s recent poor form.
The Leinster man, who won 15 of his 34 international caps under the Kiwi, says there’s no way the former Leinster coach will be pushing the panic button after two defeats to England and Wales.
The winger also worked under the New Zealander at provincial level, and is confident there is plenty of time between now and the World Cup in Japan to get things right.
“If Ireland had beaten Wales, you could say it would be a great springboard, but at the end of the day there is an awful lot of time to the World Cup,” he said.
“There is no better coach to get some of the stuff they got wrong, right. There is time to do that.
“There are four friendlies before the start of the World Cup. That is time for Joe to try new guys and then try to get that consistency going into the tournament. I have no doubt that the team will get things right and get momentum going to Japan.”
Defeats to Wales and England saw Ireland give up their Grand Slam title with worrying ease, the defeat to Eddie Jones’ side in the opening round apparently knocking Ireland’s confidence for six.
They had no answer to the English aggression and struggled to perform in the weeks following, even if they did manage to beat Scotland, Italy and a poor France. In assessing the run of performances and results, McFadden — involved in last year’s winning campaign — pointed to how Ireland scraped a win against France in Paris in 2018 and turned into a Grand Slam- winning side.
“It is very tough for me to put my finger on it because I just haven’t been in that environment for the full camp,” he said. “The one thing I would say as an outsider is that last year we beat France in the last play of the game with that kick.
“It could have been very different, that Six Nations. That was a huge momentum builder for us.
“You even look at the Scottish game at home, the Welsh game at home, things went our way in the game because the confidence was high.
“Momentum was on our side. It looked like it was tough for the boys to build themselves back up after England coming to Dublin and playing so well. That would be my read on it.”
Leinster’s Ireland players will report back to HQ today, with just over a week to the Champions Cup quarter-final against Ulster in Aviva Stadium.
Coming back to a familiar dressing room, sleeping in their own bed — McFadden believes the change of scenery will be a “perfect tonic” for them.
“That eight or nine-week period in camp is great to be involved in, but very intense,” he said.
“I have no doubt, even if the lads had won the Six Nations, they would still be coming back here with a smile on their faces and be happy to see us.
“You are stuck in hotels for a long time. I’m looking forward to seeing them all again.”