Cian Healy: Ireland must learn from Japan defeat and bounce back
Cian Healy has admitted Ireland have two days to turn their World Cup around in the wake of their stunning 19-12 defeat to hosts Japan.
The Leinster prop shouldered the burden of responsibility for a poor personal performance as the Ireland collective wilted in the face of a brutally accurate Japanese onslaught.
Japan shocked the globe with a second superlative World Cup win in four years, this Shizuoka triumph every inch as special as the 34-32 victory over South Africa in Brighton in 2015.
Wing Kenki Fukuoka bagged the crucial try to add to 11 points from the boot of Yu Tamura, leaving Ireland hugely chastened and desperate to reassert their grip on Pool A.
And the vastly-experienced Healy insisted the next two days will be critical to Ireland’s chances of setting their World Cup campaign back on track.
Asked if turning things around now could prove the making of Ireland’s tournament, the 92-cap prop Healy replied: “Hopefully, and that’s what the next couple of days really relies on.
“We have to take the learnings from it and bring those reviews to bear, to get tighter as a group.
“You don’t need extra motivation in a World Cup, but something like that defeat and performance is going to have to do it for you: because it’s too easy to get knocked out and go home.
“We’ve got big goals for this tournament, and we have to turn the page. So we must take our learnings, turn the page and bounce back.
“I’m not sure we’ve digested what the hardest part of that was: I personally didn’t have a good game and that’s stinging with me at the moment.
“So we’ll review it, look over it and take what learnings from it personally and as a group.
“Then we’ll kick on and get into recovery and preparation mode and plan for the week ahead.”
Head coach Joe Schmidt heaped the pressure on referee Angus Gardner ahead of the contest, insisting the last time the Australian had officiated Ireland had proved “incredibly frustrating”.
That was the 25-7 Six Nations loss in Cardiff in March that sealed Wales’ Grand Slam, where Schmidt felt his side received no parity from the officials, especially at the scrum.
Gardner against proved a consternation for Ireland in Shizuoka though, as Japan played the officials and the situation far better than Schmidt’s men.
Jamie Joseph said Japan had spent three years preparing to face the Irish, and the Brave Blossoms certainly appeared to have analysed Ireland’s gameplan in minute detail.
Japan were able to stop Ireland at source around the fringes, to deny the visiting pack any kind of platform.
Schmidt’s men did conjure two early tries from high bombs to the wings, with Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney taking their scores well to exploit a clear Japanese shortcoming.
But once the Brave Blossoms wrestled the advantage around the fringes, Ireland failed to offer any answers.
Healy insisted however that Ireland can ill afford to lament the refereeing, refusing to be drawn on whether Gardner’s performance was sub-par.
“We just take that out of the equation, you play what you’re dealt and that’s always the situation,” said Healy, of the officiating in Shizuoka.
“You shouldn’t have to rely on anything other than your team and what you put together, and we really didn’t get to put a lot together.
“And that’s credit to the Japanese line speed and their defence, and how they played the game.
“They had an incredible game, and you could see they were working as one.
“They really had clarity on what they wanted to do and they made life difficult for us.
“Our discipline was poor in parts. For a lot of it we were pretty good, but just sloppy mistakes in bad parts of the pitch that allowed them to kick penalties.
“So we’ll drill down into that in the early part of this week.
“Players are going to review it and it will be in the coaches’ meeting as well, so we’ll have a look at it.
“But we do pride ourselves on our discipline. We’re a very low penalised team, so it’s not acceptable to be getting that many penalties.
“We’ll go through it individually and then meet up as a unit to go forward.
“Our support has been incredible throughout the last number of years.
“The team are capable of great things; we know that and the support knows that.
“So it’s just about bouncing back from this and getting ourselves into a strong position to go forward.”