6N: Best says Ireland won’t be affected by any distractions
DUBLIN (AP) — Ireland can’t let itself be affected by possible distractions as it did last year when it lost to Scotland, captain Rory Best said on Friday.
The Irish could win the Six Nations on Saturday if they beat Scotland at Lansdowne Road and England can’t match the result against France later in Paris.
Last year, Ireland blamed its bus arriving at Murrayfield 15 minutes late for losing to Scotland 27-22. Best said it was a costly lesson for the team to learn how to handle unexpected setbacks. But, he added, they have been better for it.
“We must make sure we don’t let any distractions catch us,” Best said after the captain’s run at Lansdowne Road on Friday.
“Little things, from a dropped ball in the warmup to the bus breaking down; anything left field.
“Last year we got caught cold. Getting to the stadium that close to kickoff was something really new to us.
“If we find something unfamiliar tomorrow, we’ve got to go back to our process, trust our game plan.
“Something always goes wrong, and that’s the beauty of sport: You’ve got to be bigger and stronger than that.”
After the bus was late, the warm-up also didn’t go so well. But they can’t be excuses, Best said. Even though Scotland flew out to 21-5 after 30 minutes, Ireland rallied to lead 22-21 until less than 10 minutes to go.
“After we took the lead, we just breathed a sigh of relief, and at this level if you breathe a sigh of relief and go, ‘This feels comfortable, this feels good, we’re in control,’ bang, just like that, you lose control again.
“Good sides like Scotland will capitalize. They caught us at the start of the game and they caught us when we took the lead again.”
Asked about the chance of winning a third championship in five years, Best said: “For us, it’s only about the challenge that Scotland pose. If you look at how they’ve been evolving, they’ve put together some very, very good performances.
“So for us, it’s about making sure we perform and play well, and get the result. Whatever comes, comes.”
Meanwhile, Scotland counterpart John Barclay admitted they can’t be considered a title contender until they win away from home.
Scotland has lost 16 of its last 18 away matches in the championship. It has beaten Ireland in Dublin only once in 20 years.
But Barclay is confident the Scots can bring the same intensity they showed in beating England 25-13 last time out at Murrayfield.
“Ultimately, the teams that do well in this competition have to do well away from home,” he said. “It’s something we’ve looked at. We’ve looked back on away wins when we have managed it.
“But look, we’re going to go into this weekend with the same approach that we did against England. If we play with that intensity and that accuracy we should be in a good position.”