Cian Healy is relishing the opportunity to get back to basics and exact revenge on the Australians after a sobering night in Brisbane.
The loosehead prop will start this weekend’s second Test in Melbourne having come off the bench at Suncorp Stadium seven days earlier to endure the unusual experience of an Ireland team being bested at both the breakdown and the scrum.
The 30-year-old will win his 80th Ireland cap this weekend, nine years after a Test debut against the same Australian opposition in Dublin but it has been quite a while since the Grand Slam winners, unbeaten for 15 months before Saturday, had felt so under the pump as they did in Brisbane.
“It was a bit messy in the scrum and we haven’t been used to that so we had to knuckle down for the week and set out a pretty specific plan of what we want to do and how we want to get to it.
"We’ve been pretty dominant in all our scrums and we felt they kind of got the head on us there. We haven’t been used to going backward.
“So, yeah, it’s another chance to have a shot at them. The battle is everywhere but for us our main one is in there. That’s what we rank our game on. You could have all the carries in the world but if you don’t back it up, that’s not good.”
Nor is there anything scientific about how Ireland fix those breakdown problems and counter Australian intensity.
“You just have to deal with it. It has to be physical, it has to be fast and we need to be there before them and cut off our rucks before they even think about going in for the ball.
“If our support players aren’t close enough, or linebreaks and someone gets blocked, that’s why they’re getting those opportunities.
“So we need to have everyone fully switched on to be there before the man’s on the ground to shut off that and give no daylight to them.
Healy described yesterday’s training session as “spicy enough” as the squad zoned in on those aforementioned problem areas.
“It wasn’t a mental challenge around that, it was just ‘fix it’. It’s not that intricate. It was: ‘Do this and that won’t happen.’ ‘Do that and that won’t happen.’ And we just got to work about it.”
Even the younger players in the camp, some of whom tasted defeat with Ireland for the first time last Saturday, had responded well, Healy said, including lock James Ryan who experienced a first loss as a professional, 23 games after his senior debut.
“I didn’t know what James Ryan was going to be like when it happened. I gave him a hug and picked him up but I don’t think he needed picking up.
"We moved on and got back to work from Monday; you just learn from it, put it aside. You can’t cry over it for too long.
"You take your learnings and start putting together everything for your next shot. That’s the joy of a three-Test tour, it’s not over after one, you’ve another chance to go.
“We’re well capable and we’ve the plays and the physicality and the fitness and everything to do it. It’s just about executing our game and I have no worries about the lads’ headspace.
"Everyone is pretty fired up for this. Even in the week there’s been less out and about.
"It’s been seeing lads in on computers and getting shit right. You just know you need to be switched on more.”
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