Rassie Erasmus backs Ireland to forget "off day" in Scotland

Musnter's director of rugby says that he has seen Ireland grow as a unit and

Rassie Erasmus

Image: ©INPHO/Donall Farmer

Munster director of rugby Rassie Erasmus says he sees plenty of positivity in Ireland's Six Nations campaign and that their opening day defeat to Scotland was an "off day".

Joe Schmidt's side had to withstand a first-half blitz at Murrayfield before they rallied to take the lead in the second period. However, two late penalties from the Scots got the home side off to a perfect start in the championship. 

Ireland now look to bounce back this weekend when they take on Italy at the Stadio Olimpico and Erasmus knows that they will use the defeat as motivation.

"It was a tough match and everyone will be disappointed," he said. "But I think one must be realistic, you'll have your off days.

"The Irish team has been slowly growing into a strong unit and that's why the expectations were so high. I'm sure they can turn it around, it's still early in the Six Nations. 

"Overall, I thought it was a gutsy performance [from Scotland] and they had that great start. Our boys clawed back in the second-half but they just came [up] short. Scotland will be proud of the performance and the Irish guys will want to turn it around."

Not too preoccupied by the national team's woes, Erasmus must look to build on their win against Edinburgh last weekend in the absence of a number of his players on international duty. Both Nigel Carolan's U20 side and the senior team have raided Munster's ranks in the last month.

"We are still in 'new waters' to put it that way. If you've got 14 boys up at the national camp and they don't train Mondays and Tuesdays and play a game on Friday, you only have Wednesday to train with the guys.  That's why we played a few of the international guys off the bench.

"It's great for the guys who are not regular starters to start. The defence is always shows the character in the team and now the challenge is to get some attacking play going."

Munster's Ronan O'Mahony celebrates his try with Tyler Bleyendaal, Calvin Nash, Jaco Taute and Francis Saili celebrate during their victory over Edinburgh at Myreside. Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

If defence does indeed show character, then the Men in Red remained resolute by shutting out the Scots in difficult conditions and now look ahead to the visit of Welsh side Newport Gwent Dragons to Irish Independent Park. 

"Even when we had our international players lining out for us in the first away game, I can still remember the last line-out maul when they were all over us. They could have scored that last maul and we would have lost the game. I think we only beat them by four or five points.

"They're not a team who lose a lot of international players right now. It'll be a good challenge. We have to do without a lot of international players, whether it's U20 or the boys who are playing against Italy this weekend."

A victory would see them notch 14 wins in their last 15 games, a statistic Erasmus isn't getting carried away with.

"It's good for the team, but I think the trick will always be to keep on performing and getting better. If you look at the result last week, you'll see there was a lot of areas where we could do better."