Rory Best has admitted the Ireland squad were guilty of complacency during their disastrous Six Nations campaign, as they gear up their preparations for the Rugby World Cup.
On the back of a record-breaking season in 2018, Ireland finished third in the Six Nations following a campaign which included heavy defeats to both England and Wales.
And Best, the Ireland captain, feels the highs of 2018 directly contributed to the lows experienced earlier this season.
“Since Joe (Schmidt) came in on day one, the first thing I remember is sitting in a team meeting and (he asked), ‘Right, how do we perceive ourselves?’ And the big word that came from all the group was inconsistent,” Best said.
“We said well how do we become more consistent? And then the big thing he said was that no matter who we play, we’ve got to prepare the same way. And that has been the hallmark of Joe. To go away from that foundation now would be madness.
“I think probably subconsciously in the Six Nations last season, we maybe did.
"It’s funny how those little things can go through your head, and maybe at this level it’s just ‘You know what, I’ll not do the extra couple of minutes on the computer tonight, or I’ll not look at that. I’ll look at training but there is a wee bit at the end, I’ll skip that’.”
Yet Best, capped 117 times by Ireland, believes the Six Nations experience will stand to the squad as they step-up preparations for the World Cup, beginning with a warm-up game against Italy on Saturday.
“I think when the boys came in at the start of this pre-season, everyone was as hungry as I have seen a group of players coming together. Generally you get a pocket that are really hungry, a pocket that are ready to go and a pocket that are sort of coming for the start of pre-season that (feel like) they have to be here. Whereas I felt that by and large we had a group of players that want to prove that 2019 was the blip, not 2018.”
Rory Best is a brand ambassador for Flogas, the All-Ireland energy company.
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