Ireland coach Declan Kidney goes into the biggest weekend of his career defying season adamant that his team can still win the Six Nations.
A fortnight after the lackluster defeat to England at the Aviva Stadium, the Irish travel to Edinburgh on Sunday to face a Scotland side buoyant after their thumping win over Italy.
With newspaper reports suggesting that Kidney’s contract won’t be renewed at the end of the season without a title success, the coach knows his job is on the line.
But he remains convinced his team’s abject defeat to England won’t define their season or his career.
He told the Irish Sun, “It’s still wide open, isn’t it. France have had two poor results, and you can’t see that continuing, unfortunately.
“We’re one of the teams coming up, but that’s not our worry for another week or two -- that’s England’s worry.
“Wales will get stronger, they’ve named the same team, so I think they’ll get stronger as the tournament goes on so the challenge for us is to bring new faces into the team and get everyone up to speed over the week.”
Flanker Sean O’Brien shares Kidney’s view that the England performance will be a one off in terms of this season’s championship and the team will bounce back.
O’Brien said, “There’s still a lot to play for. If we leave ourselves in the best possible shape there will be a slip-up somewhere for the other teams down the line.
“Anyone can beat anyone on any day. If we leave ourselves in the best possible position, we can do no more than that.
“We’re looking forward to getting back on the horse against Scotland. It’s a good game for both teams.
“Our errors, as a team and as individuals, stand out from the England game. They cost us.
“A few of them happened within minutes of each other and put us under a bit of pressure and they kicked a couple of scores from that.”
The Leinster star has warned his teammates to get the English result out of their system before Sunday’s visit to Scotland.
He said, “There are no excuses. We made mistakes against England and we have to live with them. We don’t go out to make mistakes, it’s just the way it is.
“England didn’t make any mistakes in fairness to them. They came at us strongly, were physical, and did what they had to do.
“We could go out and play them this weekend and beat them but unfortunately we don’t have that chance.
“We’ve all been in this situation before with our clubs or Ireland. There’s no panic and there’s no giving out.
“‘Next ball’ is a call we use to get back in the game and get refocused again. There’s no point in having a go at someone. He doesn’t mean to drop the ball or give away a penalty.”
The Scotland game can’t come quick enough now for O’Brien who added, “We can talk about it until the cows come home and keep kicking ourselves over and over about the England result but in the world we live in we just need to move on and look forward to what’s ahead of us.
“That’s what’s in our control at the minute – the Scotland game.
“I think the championship still is a good possibility. I think someone will slip up along the way and hopefully we can get ourselves into the best possible position to finish at the top.”