Robbie Henshaw has dismissed the theory that Ireland’s late arrival at Murrayfield on Saturday had anything to do with the team’s slow start and eventual defeat in their Six Nations opener against Scotland, writes Brendan O’Brien.
Ireland team manager Paul Deans confirmed today that the team coach left their hotel on time and that the 15-minute delay in reaching the Edinburgh ground was down to a change of route taken by the police escort.
“Yeah, it certainly wasn’t the norm when we got to the ground,” said Henshaw.
“I think when we got into the changing room we had 25 minutes to when the warm up started whereas we have 45 minutes usually in the Aviva.
“That would have been a bit of a change in the players’ set-up but we’re not making excuses. We were primed and ready to perform. We knew what was to come at us. It was a slow start.”
Ireland shipped three first-half tries but recovered to take a one-point lead as the final quarter played out which they let slip through sloppy play and indiscipline which was punished by two, decisive Greig Laidlaw penalties.
It was a deeply frustrating manner in which to let the Six Nations opener get away from them but Henshaw returned to that tardy opening when asked where and when this one was lost.
“It all comes down to our start. We felt a little bit flat as a group in the game. We gave that Scotland team a bit of time and space on the ball and they punished us in the wider channels with Stuart Hogg going over twice.
“Our spacing in our defence was a bit narrow in the first-half. If you look at the second-half performance in our defence we got it spot on and they didn’t really threaten us so it all came down to our start and the narrowness of our defensive spacing.
“If we’d started the first-half like we did the second, things would have been different.”
All that pre-tournament talk of a Grand Slam is now moot. Ireland still have a possible championship title to play for but they will chase that with added pressure on their shoulders.
“We have to go out and have to win every game and obviously chase the bonus point if it is there," said Henshaw.
“There’s a lot more pressure on the squad, and the squad might not be used to that, but it may hopefully help us to perform and get the most out of us as a group.”