Alan Quinlan: Break gives Ireland the chance to "get the balance right"

The former Ireland and Munster player also described their start to the Six Nations Championship as a "poor return"

Ireland, Rugby

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Alan Quinlan believes this weekend's break from Six Nations action will allow Joe Schmidt and the Ireland squad time to "get the balance right" ahead of their upcoming game against France.

Ireland take one win and one loss into their third game of the Championship and have already picked up two bonus points from their opening two games. 

An opening day defeat to Scotland dashed their hopes of either a Triple Crown or even a Grand Slam and Schmidt must now look ahead in the hopes of winning the Championship outright.

Speaking on Newstalk's Facebook Live on Friday morning, Newstalk Breakfast presenter Alan Quinlan said that the players who did not return to their provinces for the Guinness PRO12 this week should spend the time working meticulously on their game-plan.

"I think it's about getting the balance right and going through some things for France," he told Oisin Langan. "Walking through some stuff. Getting a bit of rest and recovery, as well as a little fitness hit.

"They'll be looking back on their own games and some of the French stuff as well. It's a mixture of all of that. It's nice to be there because it means you're going to be involved against France and if you're a player within that small group, there's every chance you'll be involved."

England remain on course for a Grand Slam in this year's Six Nations. Image: David Davies / PA Wire/PA Images

Ireland welcome France to the Aviva Stadium at the end of the month before they visit Wales and cap their campaign off at home to England. Eddie Jones' side have picked up two wins from two and look to extend their winning run to 17 games when they take on Italy at Twickenham.

"The challenge for the Irish coaching staff is being able to keep three or four more guys and make sure they're be in contention next week. It's about getting the balance right as regards match time. The guys who sat on the bench the last few weeks need match time.

"Josh van der Flier has gone back to Leinster. He needs a game. He's very much an important part of that 23 next week but he needs to play rugby. That's the case with many guys really and if you put your hand up this weekend and have a really strong performance, maybe the coaches are thinking 'he hasn't trained with us this week but the form is good'.

"Buy and large, the team will be pretty much the same. Rob Kearney is a doubt so maybe Zebo will go to full-back and Trimble will come back on the wing.

"The only other variable is Sexton. Other than that, I think the team will be largely the same."

Of their start to the campaign, Quinlan said: "A disappointing start, no doubt about it. Losing to Scotland took away the possibility of a Grand Slam and Triple Crown, but the team recovered well. They were ruthless in Rome against a poor Italian side. But Ireland played well.

"I think that's all they would have focused on after last week, getting a performance and a reaction after Scotland... A 50% return is a poor start from the opening two games."