Ireland believe they are capable of significant improvement moving towards a pivotal Paris showdown with Scotland.
Andy Farrell’s side underlined their Rugby World Cup credentials by scalping defending champions South Africa to register a third successive Pool B victory.
Saturday evening’s thrilling 13-8 success at Stade de France put Ireland on the brink of the quarter-finals, but they will likely need to avoid defeat against the Scots at the same venue on October 7th to complete the job.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) September 24, 2023
Players are currently enjoying a few days off following a stirring display against the Springboks and departed camp feeling they can and must perform better.
Defence coach Simon Easterby said: “There’s so much belief in what the players are doing. They pitch up time and time again.
“We got the reward (against South Africa) but there’s lots we could be better at and that’s the feeling in the changing room.
“(We’re) really pleased with a lot of aspects of the performance, but we know we have to be better.
“The games will get tougher.
“There are a few things that have gone on over the last couple of seasons that give the guys confidence and trust in what we’re doing.
“This is another stepping stone, I guess, towards what we all want to try to achieve over the next couple of weeks.
“We’re genuinely feeling that we can get better and we need to get better as the competition goes on. There’s more in us and we have to get better.”
— Rugby World Cup France 2023 (@France2023) September 23, 2023
Ireland lead their group on 14 points after backing up bonus-point victories over Romania and Tonga in style in front of tens of thousands of Irish fans in the French capital.
Yet the Springboks and upcoming opponents Scotland can still deny Test rugby’s top-ranked nation a place in the knockout rounds.
Easterby says Six Nations champions Ireland have proven they are a team for big occasions, having defeated each of their major rivals during the past two years, including last summer’s historic tour success over the All Blacks.
“That’s not a one-off,” he said of the weekend result. “We’ve done it in New Zealand, we’ve done it in the autumn series last year against South Africa so that doesn’t surprise us.
“I guess the level of physicality and the brutality of the game these days, that’s something that the players have got to get their heads around and to a man they did that.
“You’ve got to make sure you enjoy these occasions.
“The support was incredible and those of us who were lucky enough to be at the stadium will remember that type of support for a long time.”
By Ed Elliot, PA, Paris
Keep up to date with all the latest news on our website Beat102103.com.