Owen Farrell Matt Williams: Warm-ups vital for Ireland to recover form and confidence

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In what had been a titanic 2003 RWC semi-final, time was running out for New Zealand and Australia were seconds away from winning through to the World Cup final.

The great Australian scrumhalf, George Gregan, was standing up from tackling his long-time kiwi opponent, Byron Kelleher. A twinkle was in Georges’s eye, as he stood over his adversary and raised four fingers. “Four more years Byron. Four more years.”

Defeat. Failure. A dream is gone. George was feeding the monkey that was on the Kiwis’s back. “Four more years.” It remains an iconic sledge.

In the moments after Argentina had outplayed Ireland in the 2015 RWC quarter-final, those same words came crashing into Irish ears. Four more years.

The rest of the rugby world observed the English game plan as they rendered Ireland’s attack impotent

That day there were key players absent that impacted on the team’s performance. That is undeniable. But the excuses put forward for Ireland’s eighth consecutive quarter-final defeat were shallow.

Sadly, the Irish rugby community, high on a toxic mix of blind faith and a mind-numbing dose of self-denial, lapped up the excuses. Nothing to see here folks. Move along folks.

Four more years.

Despite significant successes in the one-year cycle of the Six Nations, under the coaching of Joe Schmidt, Ireland are yet to prove that they are capable of delivering a winning four-year strategic plan. The proof will be the winning of the 2019 quarter-final.

Pressure

The Six Nations Championship is iconic but the cold hard fact is that England are the onl

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