Joe Schmidt claims Ireland’s collective effort made the difference in their opening victory over Scotland as they kicked off their World Cup with a 27-3 victory in Yokohama.
James Ryan, Rory Best and Tadhg Furlong went over for tries in the first half, with Andrew Conway then adding the bonus-point score in the second to round off a perfect start to the campaign.
And for Schmidt, who will step down as Ireland coach after this tournament, the way his entire team came together was the key to the success.
He said: “I was delighted with all 23. One of the things that sometimes happens is you build a lead and lose a bit of cohesion when guys start to filter in and out. I didn’t really detect that happening.
“Conditions made it really difficult for us to construct things but we got the try in the second half when a lot of those replacements were on.
“The scrum that we turned over with the replacements was really impressive. I know Besty [Rory Best] was in the middle of that but he had a couple of new guys either side of him in Andrew Porter and Dave Kilcoyne so that was really pleasing.”
Ireland have six days before their next game against hosts Japan in Shizuoka, with Bundee Aki and Peter O’Mahony both a doubt after going off in the first half.
Despite those concerns, this success puts Ireland in good shape ahead of that clash with Japan, having now won three in a row with back-to-back successes over Wales before the tournament.
And skipper Best explained that while there had been some questions from outside the team following the heavy warm-up defeat to England in August, the biggest criticism was from within.
He explained: “There’s questions externally and it’s hard to get away from it. The biggest frustration and question was from within.
“We knew we had a lot more to give and weren’t giving it for whatever reason. We maybe didn’t as players put as much pressure on ourselves. Sometimes you need to draw a line in the sand.
“We were as disappointed as anyone with that England performance. Our potential is a lot better than that. It was pleasing the next two Wales games and then this one.
“There will always be critics but the constructive criticism we get from Joe and the coaches is probably tougher than anyone but that’s how you get better.”