It is not the first time in recent memory that Ireland’s players have been asked to explain a costly sluggish start against a more physical England side but both Andrew Conway and Keith Earls were prepared to say this was a blip from which they can rebound.
Not only that but there is no lack of belief in the Ireland camp that the fightback from this first defeat of the 2020 campaign can lead to silverware in the form of the Guinness Six Nations title.
“They smothered us,” Earls said following his performance off the bench in the second half of the 24-12 defeat.
“You know, the way things are going people are expecting Grand Slams all the time but it’s getting harder and harder to get one of them -— but we still have a chance in the championship.
“It is just one of those days. My own philosophy is that if I can look myself in the mirror after the game and say I gave it everything and still lost then I’d say fair play them — that’s when you step back and say they were better than us on the day but you wipe yourself down and you go again.
“It is a couple of mistakes at the start (which cost us) and it is hard to pull back a team like that when you are 14-0 and 17-0 down. We will look at that.”
Conway, who passed a Head Injury Assessment 15 minutes from time but did not return to the fray, spoke from a similar viewpoint to his Munster clubmate.
“We just got beaten by a better team,” the starting wing said. “They were all over us. They were accurate and produced a good kicking game while we made some mistakes which gave them tries. They were strong, they were good, they were accurate, they had a good kicking game, had big ball carriers and we just didn’t deal with the bounce of the ball sometimes. And when you go 17 points behind at Twickenham, against England, you are in trouble.”
And he echoed the belief that despite this loss, there was still plenty to play with two games to go.
“We’re not out of it. We are two from three. We feel good. We’ve Italy next and we’ll put all our concentration into that. Hopefully, we will get a better result and performance there and we will see where the table lies then, what happens in other games, and all going well, we will be going to Paris with a championship on the line.
That is the honest answer.
“We’ll see where we went wrong, have a few frank discussions and make sure everyone is aligned and on the same page. These things happen in rugby.
“I’m lucky enough to have been playing the game for a very long time and we’re lucky enough that we have a match in two weeks.
“It is not the end of the season. It is not a final, we’re not going on our summer holidays. We have got the opportunity, all going well, to put in a better performance in a couple of weeks. That is the beauty of the game.”
Earls defended his head coach, following Andy Farrell’s willingness to take responsibility for Ireland not reaching the physical pitch required.
“I am enjoying it under Andy. He will always put the blame on himself and a coach always will. But he can’t make the players be more physical, that’s up to ourselves.”