If any non-Leinster player had any illusions that Joe Schmidt was anything other than a demanding task-master, they were quickly reminded that good isn’t quite good enough.
A six-day turnaround doesn’t lend itself to celebration and Schmidt has no intention of allowing the players to rest on their laurels. Munster scrum-half Murray revealed that the new head coach reminded his players of the necessity for considerable improvement against Wales.
And to that end he told his players in the Aviva Stadium dressing room that the speed of delivery from the breakdown was too slow.
“Our ruck ball was slow at times,” accepted Murray.
“We have to improve especially with the likes of their back row. That’s always an area to improve upon and Joe is already looking towards Wales. We have to look forward to that.”
He admitted the breakdown would once again likely be where next Saturday’s game is won and lost.
“I think no matter what game you play the breakdown is going to be huge, whoever wins that is most likely to come out on top.
“We had to hold the ball for long periods of time in order to break them down, so we will expect nothing less from the Welsh next weekend. It’s just how we deal with the attack at the breakdown and how effective we are.
“I think we tried to create quick ruck ball but sometimes it was a bit slow and the gaps didn’t open up as we would have liked but they’re different types of games and hopefully we adjusted. Leading up to Rob’s try, I think we had maybe up to 15 phases before we broke them down.”
Murray was delighted but not surprised that Ireland prevailed without the imposing presence of skipper Paul O’Connell.
“Sure, he was a loss, but Dan Tuohy slotted in very well and we have leaders everywhere. The likes of Jamie, Bestie, Peter [O’Mahony], Drico and Johnny. All these guys were in chatting. Everyone had confidence in Dan and we just got on with it.”
The half-time team talk was more analytical than usual and Murray admitted they identified areas that left room for improvement. But there was also a real determination to ensure they didn’t leave the game behind them in the second half, as they had against New Zealand in November.
“Historically maybe we haven’t been that good in the second half of games, certainly against New Zealand when we didn’t score in the second half,” he said. “That was a major point coming into this game and it was major thing to improve upon.”
Leinster’s debutant tight head prop Martin Moore was delighted to have earned his first game.
“It was a great occasion. It came sooner than expected given that at the start of this season I was looking to try to break into the Leinster side, I was lucky enough to do that and I was lucky enough to get game time.”
© Irish Examiner Ltd. All rights reserved