“We wouldn’t be playing if we weren’t going for the trophy.”
A reminder from Cian Healy – if it were needed – that Ireland view themselves as strong candidates to win this Six Nations. There are three testing games to come, but with home wins against Scotland and Wales secured, a good start has built momentum heading into this break week.
One of the key elements to the success of Joe Schmidt’s men so far has been the dominance of the forward pack, wrestling with the Scots and the Welsh but finishing on top of both bouts. Healy says Ireland are doing the right things as they strive to become “a reputable pack.”
The loosehead prop points out that the jumping ability of Devin Toner, Paul O’Connell and Dan Tuohy at the line-out has been helpful so far, while Rory Best is throwing “into lovely places.” Overseeing this improvement from the Irish pack has been John Plumtree, the Ireland forwards coach.
How much of the credit does the Kiwi deserve?
“A lot of it. He’s putting a bit of confidence in us, about what we can do, what we are capable of going forward and it’s been plugged hard in training. He is a man with high standards and thankfully we’ve lived up to them.”
However, Healy is keen to stress that this Irish effort has not been about individuals leading the charge. There will not be one player whose shoulders carry the burden of line-breaking expectation, no one man will be dominating the defensive efforts.
Healy [left] celebrates Chris Henry’s try after a first half maul. ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan.
“Everyone has had a part to play. It hasn’t been any one player really stepping out as individuals. We have put everything in, it is everyone working for the same cause. It is all controlled progress, everyone has added in something; there have been no lone soldiers. We are going forward as a team, as a unit and that is the way it is.”
Of equal importance to Healy has been the focus on ensuring that Ireland operate with optimal levels of emotional intensity. He admits that that element had been missing at times in recent seasons, for reasons unknown. Now Schmidt’s side will pride themselves on representing the jersey.
It’s something that is part of an Irish team. In the past we have had the odd performance that we haven’t had that same drive and that thing that Irish teams are known for. We are known for having our heart on our sleeves and being strong.
“That is going to become a big part of this team again and we are not going to let it slip.”