Farrell says Ireland defense must adapt with no excuses
KOBE, Japan (AP) — Three of the four offside calls against Ireland were apparently wrong.
That hasn't stopped Ireland from making sure the chances of being whistled offside again in the Rugby World Cup are slim.
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt said World Rugby admitted to the referee errors after they lost to Japan 19-12 last Saturday. Schmidt knew his defense was coached better than that, and defense coach Andy Farrell said on Wednesday, the day before Ireland's third pool match against Russia in Kobe, that they've had extra instruction to make sure, above all, that they adapt to referee Jerome Garces.
"The only point Joe was trying to make yesterday is that we're a disciplined side — we pride ourselves on our discipline massively," Farrell said. "We don't want to go back into ourselves. You've got to adapt and have a no-excuse mentality."
The rugby league great added, "We've been practicing rugby league this week by going back 10 meters so we're not offside. We can't let that affect ourselves. All we can do is make sure we're disciplined, and we want to show that on Thursday night."
Farrell said Ireland's defense overall against Japan wasn't good enough, mainly due to Japan's strong play. He was proud, though, of winger Keith Earls chasing back to make a try-saving tackle on Kenki Fukuoka right near the end and preserve Ireland a bonus point.
He said Irish ambitions of winning the Rugby World Cup were far from extinguished. He pointed to England, a team he was previously involved with, reaching the 2007 final after a hammering from South Africa in the pool stage; of France reaching the 2011 final after a pasting from New Zealand in the pool stage; and South Africa reaching the 2015 semifinals after the historic loss to Japan.
"You can use a setback in the right manner," Farrell said. "After a couple of days of understanding the reasons why, we're in good spirits, back on track and ready to prove a point.
"The feeling in the camp is one of wanting to put things right on the pitch on Thursday night. That can't come quick enough."
He's said the need to adapt on Thursday will be crucial, because the previous games under the roof at Kobe demanded it. The ball and grass start off dry, but in the humidity, both become slippery. Farrell said their analysis of both previous games there showed the England-United States game produced 30 handling errors, and the Scotland-Samoa game 35 errors.
"How do we adapt? We make sure there's a no-excuse mentality," Farrell said. "There are going to be errors, we need to make sure that our defense shapes up pretty quickly to anything that is turned over."