Backs coach Alan Gaffney wants Ireland to build on their stellar display against Australia and show the attacking class they possess as they look to secure qualification for the Rugby World Cup’s knockout stages.
Ireland leapfrogged over the Wallabies in Pool C, following their 15-6 win over the Tri Nations champions, to put themselves in prime position to qualify as winners of the pool.
It was a tryless, hard-hitting affair and with Russia and Italy up next, Alan Gaffney is confident the backs can click into gear and boost their try-scoring rate.
“I think we can play better than that. There’s a lot left in our attack,” explained the backs coach, who is bowing out with Ireland at the end of the tournament.
“I think we’ve got a lot more to offer. We’ve shown that in the past. We’ve got the capacity to play and we want to play.”
Ireland came close to crossing the Australian whitewash when Tommy Bowe went on a length of the pitch run late on, and replacement scrum half Conor Murray also had a try ruled out for an earlier infringement.
“That was a performance, but it was nowhere near our best performance. The forwards were very, very good last night, the scrum was good,” Gaffney told RTÉ Sport.
“But we know from a backs’ perspective, we played the game very narrow last night and that’s what we intended to do – we didn’t go out and try to run around them, we never intended to do that.
“We may go out and play entirely differently against Russia, we’ve got the capacity to do that. But we won’t be treating Russia with any less respect than they deserve – they deserve a lot of respect, as do Italy.”
He added: “We’re only halfway there. Brian (O’Driscoll) addressed it after the game in the dressing room, as did Paul (O’Connell) and a number of the senior players.
“We can’t leave that win on the shelf and now not go out and perform in the final two pool games. We know we have to beat Italy to go through – there’s no surety that we’re through, we know that.
“It’s a day off tomorrow for the boys, well deserved. We had a travel day today. But from Tuesday onwards it will be full bore.”
The Australian hinted at today’s press conference in Taupo, where the management and players transferred to earlier today, that his countrymen possibly showed a lack of respect to Ireland.
“I possibly think, and this is not being disrespectful, but I don’t know if they did quite show us enough respect.
“Australia rely very much on the individuals, (Kurtley) Beale and (Quade) Cooper and (Will) Genia doing what they do. And they’ve got a lot of quality there.
“But full credit to our guys, we battled through and stuck it through and played a very strong game. It’s a huge win.
“Coming down and winning in the Southern Hemisphere is not something Irish sides have done in recent years. We do regard it as a monumental win. It ranks very highly in the games I’ve been involved in.”
Meanwhile, Ireland team manager Paul McNaughton said the injuries emerging from the game were at ‘the lower end of the scale’.
Paul O’Connell and Gordon D’Arcy will undergo scans on their hamstrings on Monday, while Rob Kearney had tight calves after his first match in over a month.
Ireland move on to week three of the tournament with a spring in their step but very much aware that qualification for the knockout stages still has to be earned.
“People are talking about bonus points here and bonus points there (but we’re) just halfway there. We really have to move on to Russia and Italy as well. That is the focus,” added McNaughton.
Follow the Ireland team in New Zealand on www.twitter.com/irfurugby.