“We have to hope the team have some Harry Houdini thing up their sleeve”

On Morning Ireland Conor O’Shea hit the nail on the head, when he noted (after 6.15 mins) the most perplexing aspect of Saturday’s defeat, “the biggest worry is that nobody seems to know why”. Indeed it is hard to find the words to describe where last Saturday’s game now leaves Ireland. Eddie O’Sullivan’s predecessor is questioning whether the IRFU’s decision to hand the coach another four year contract before the tournament started might not explain the strange lack of motivation:

…when I look back on my situation in 2001 I was deeply disappointed not to have my contract renewed but the success Ireland have enjoyed since then brooks no argument and I was fortunate to go on and enhance my coaching education with Wasps.

However, I have to question the IRFU’s decision in giving Eddie O’Sullivan a four-year extension at this point and wonder if the timing of that agreement has been counterproductive for Ireland in terms of the World Cup.

Eddie O’Sullivan has been in charge for six years and it takes a special person to keep developing a team, generating new ideas, fostering new challenges. I think it has given the team a false sense of security. Any extension of the coach’s contract should have been done after the World Cup following a debriefing on the performances and the results achieved. And the performances.

There’s been a lack of edge to the Ireland displays and the team need to be shaken from that torpor. Staleness has crept in and the enthusiasm and drive that have underpinned recent Ireland successes isn’t apparent. The environment has become too cosy and there’s a sense that one of the essentials in any Ireland team is missing: it’s a team that’s not playing for each other and that’s evident in some of the body language.

Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty