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Rory Best column

Rory Best
Rory Best
Ireland hooker

It has been a disappointing Six Nations campaign and our coach Eddie O'Sullivan is under fire.

That is not surprising, he is an easy target to hit simply because he is the coach.

But I believe Eddie prepared us very well for the England game. If you look closely at the video we were close to doing very well.

I would like Eddie to stay on. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach. He has brought my game on a lot in the last two years.

When I look at the player I am now, and think about where I was a couple of years ago, I owe him big time.

But the coach's position did not put extra pressure on the team.

The expectation from the fans and the media is high for Ireland and we put ourselves under pressure to perform at that level.

We regard ourselves as a top-five team in world rugby but throughout this season we have not performed that way.

There are ups and downs in this game. We have had a big down in a World Cup year and that has carried through to the Six Nations.

Rory Best challenges England's Steve Borthwick at Twickenham
Rory Best tries to stop England's Steve Borthwick at Twickenham
To lose three games in the championship, no matter what way you portray it, is a down for us.

But we can get back up again. Look at Wales, the whole country is going mad now but contrast that with how they were when they lost to Fiji in the World Cup just a matter of months ago.

We are feeling down at the moment but we are not a bad team.

Going to Twickenham, we were conscious about where things went wrong against Wales the previous week.

Our plan was to stretch England a bit. We got the set-up right but did not get numbers to rucks which cost us ball. If you cannot keep the ball you are not going to win games.

At 10-0 we were flying, everyone was feeling brilliant. It was just unfortunate our ill-discipline let them creep into the game with a penalty.

Then they got the try and we did not score again, that was it.

England were good to be fair and there is no doubt that in Danny Cipriani they have a future star.

England's Danny Cipriani
We thought Cipriani might crack under pressure but he didn't

He grew into the game which is the sign of a class player.

As much as it hurts, you have to say class players won the day.

At half-time we felt the game was there to be won but we did not respond the way we wanted to in the second half.

During the week Eoin Reddan had told us just how good Cipriani was. We wanted to put pressure on him and we managed that. We thought he might crack under pressure but he did not.

Jonny Wilkinson came on at 12 and when you have two game-breakers like that against you it is tough.

Most of us were at Twickenham two years ago but it is an ever better venue now they have sealed off the south end. The rendition of Swing Low near the end was truly deafening.

It was disappointing in the end, but we have to be positive. It is not all doom and gloom.

We go to Australia and New Zealand this summer where it will be a big challenge to turn things around.

But if Munster do well in the Heineken Cup and Leinster win the Magners League, suddenly we can be back where we were not so long ago.

If you are buoyant going into these games you never know what might happen.

Rory Best was talking to BBC Sport NI's Lyle Jackson

see also
Ireland 12-16 Wales
08 Mar 08 |  Rugby Union

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