Ireland have been bullied too often in the recent past by more cynical teams and need to up the aggression levels in this year’s Six Nations, according to Alan Quinlan.
The former Ireland international was in agreement with Brian O’Driscoll’s recent comments about Ireland needing more ‘thugs’ in their team believing it to be a major issue during Joe Schmidt’s last year in charge.
While good discipline was one of the factors behind much of Schmidt’s success, Quinlan, speaking on Friday’s OTB AM, believes it may be in Ireland’s interest to be a bit more cynical.
“[O’Driscoll] is right. England bullied us last year. Wales bullied us. I think at times the discipline was so good under Joe [Schmidt] and it was one of the really positive points of [his reign].
“Even referees loved refereeing Ireland because they were so disciplined. We’ve spoken before about how Joe would take the players back and look at the videos and say, ‘Look, that should have been a penalty.’ Even ones that weren’t given against Ireland.
“It made Ireland a very careful side and a very disciplined side, which is very, very important. Because in tight games if you give away penalties you lose the match.
“But I just think sometimes, going from what Drico was saying, sometimes you get bullied by teams and we get teams being offside against us and cynical against us.
“And we allow it to happen. We’re a little bit, soft is probably the wrong word, but we accept it a little bit too much,” Quinlan said.
The secret to success in rugby is often a dominant, aggressive front-five and the former Munster player felt that Ireland need exactly that, even if it does risk getting on the bad side of referees more often.
“We just need a little bit of old school, to be more confrontational. That comes from the front five of Furling, Healy, Rob Herring himself and our two second-rows.
“Just being really aggressive in their carries and their clean outs, going toe to toe when Alun Wyn Jones closes the gap and is pushing in the lineout and shoving in the lineout. Being a little bit illegal and being really good at what he’s doing.
“He’s a wonderful player. They just don’t take that. They’re a little bit more dominant with the referee and they’re showing the referee that, ‘We’re not going to be pushed around.’ Sometimes it’s down to body language,” Quinlan commented.
'They've been intimidated'
Ireland’s new starting hooker Rob Herring has rejected the idea that Ireland need more ‘dog’ in them but Quinlan felt that a lack of aggression has been evident in recent poor performances.
“It’s not that the players are soft themselves in any way but they’re just very disciplined. I think they just need to push that line a little bit and bring that anger and aggression at times when they’re coming up against teams that try to stop them.
“The reality is if Rob Herring looks back at games, and obviously he’s not going to say it, they’ve been intimidated. Teams have been cynical against them and they’ve accepted that a little bit,” Quinlan said.
Ireland get their Six Nations campaign underway on Saturday when they play Scotland at the Aviva Stadium at 4.45pm.