Simon Easterby confident England loss has not sapped belief in Ireland camp

PA

Forwards coach Simon Easterby insists there is no “doom and gloom” surrounding Ireland’s malfunctioning line-out.

Set-piece errors undermined Saturday’s performance against England as the Irish slipped to a resounding 18-7 loss in the Autumn Nations Cup.

Former Ireland captain Easterby reckons mistakes are to be expected during a transitional period for the team under head coach Andy Farrell but is adamant shortcomings at Twickenham have not sapped belief.

Ireland came off second best against England
Ireland came off second best against England

“We’re on a bit of a journey with this line-out group,” Easterby said.

“We’ve got a couple of inexperienced younger guys in there who we feel are learning every week and growing in their roles, and it takes time to build combinations and get those things right.

“There’s definitely a couple of fixes that we need to make, and alterations. But it’s certainly not doom and gloom.

“We’re really confident with the guys we selected and the guys that took the pitch on the weekend. There was a bit of inaccuracy and hopefully we will learn from that.

“Part of it is strategy, part of it is decision-making in the moment, part of it is execution of some individuals and also as a unit.

“I am certainly not concerned that the confidence would be eroded on the back of the performance on the weekend.”

  • November 13: Ireland 32-9 Wales

  • November 21: England 18-7 Ireland

  • November 29: Ireland v Georgia

  • December 5: Ireland v TBC

Ireland continue their Autumn Nations Cup campaign at home to Georgia on Sunday.

Uncapped Ulster prop Eric O’Sullivan has been added to Farrell’s squad for the game in Dublin, replacing Ed Byrne, who picked up a calf issue in London.

Captain Johnny Sexton (hamstring) and centre Robbie Henshaw (groin) will not be ready to return having been unavailable against Eddie Jones’ men.

Easterby believes 24-year-old O’Sullivan has earned an opportunity at international level.

“It’s obviously a specialised position, so we need specialist cover and Eric has been been doing really well up in Ulster,” Easterby said.

“We’re really happy with his progress and it’s a great opportunity for us to see him up close.”

Underdogs Georgia travel to the Aviva Stadium having failed to score a point in defeats to England and Wales.

While other players have impressed at club level, Easterby said further call-ups were not made in order to give chances to members of the initial 34-man squad.

The 45-year-old anticipates an experimental selection for the game but says the coaching staff will not resort to “handing out caps”.

“It’s really important that we back the players that we selected originally. This is another Test match,” Easterby said.

“There are players that are going well in the provinces and putting their hands up.

“But there’s also players that have trained really well throughout the last couple of weeks that haven’t had opportunities with us.

“There will be some experience in the team as well as some inexperience in the team for the weekend. But we don’t want to just be handing out caps as well.

“We want to make sure that guys earn the right to get selected.”

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