Conor Murray says excitement levels are high in the Ireland camp after a ‘positive’ performance against Wales, despite the result.
Ireland opened up their 2021 Guinness Six Nations campaign with a 21-16 loss in Cardiff but that only tells half the story.
The Men in Green were reduced to 14 men in the 14th minute when Peter O’Mahony was sent off, yet dominated the first half and deservedly led 13-6 at the break.
But Wales roared back after half-time – scoring tries on 48 and 58 minutes through George North and Louis Rees-Zammit – to eventually edge to victory.
However, veteran scrum-half Murray claims the squad aren’t too downhearted, instead focusing on the impressive nature of their performance despite a man disadvantage, as they look to bounce back against high-flying France in Dublin this weekend.
“Firstly, there were a lot of positives,” said Murray. “That’s why it [the defeat] is so frustrating because there were a lot of positives from that game – the way we played, the way we attacked, our breakdown, speed of ball and a good few other things.
“The access we gave them into the game in the third quarter – easy access into our half – meant they converted opportunities in our 22, which defensively is frustrating. But giving them the access is the most fixable thing for this week.
“It’s frustrating because we played so well with 14 men and showed a lot of character. Our shape, our attack was really good even with 14 men – that’s when it gets most difficult.
“We fought hard for each other and worked hard for each other, so the result is really disappointing. But there’s so much to be positive about leading into such a big game against such a good side.”
France head to the Aviva Stadium off the back of a 50-10 victory over Italy in Rome and also beat Ireland in Round 5 of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations to deny them the title, allowing England to nip in instead.
Les Bleus are one of the form teams in world rugby but haven’t won in Dublin since 2011 and Murray is adamant his side have the foundation to produce another strong display.
“If we had played poorly in Wales, didn’t fire any shots and had lost we’d be a lot more edgy this week,” he added.
“Whereas, we’ve got a lot of positives and want to get better. We’re hugely excited about what this group can bring – we showed it a little bit last week and have to show it this week.”