"Ireland don't ever do anything different and that's the worry" - Mike Tindall
"I'm not going to say I'm the oracle to Irish rugby, but... "
On Sunday, at Twickenham, there were a lot of Irish rugby supporters hoping their side could prove Mike Tindall wrong. Come kick-off, many believed their side could hobble the World Cup finalists and win the Triple Crown. By 5pm another demoralising defeat was just starting to sink in.
On House of Rugby UK, after the opening two rounds of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations, Tindall gave his forthright take on Ireland to host Alex Payne and former England teammate James Haskell.
"Nothing has changed," the former England captain declared before softening that stance somewhat.
"They have changed a few things [against Wales]. Instead of always doing the runaround, they occasionally do the pass out the back. With George North defending as bad as he did at the weekend, they could have gone down his channel all day and made yards."
"They're still, defensively, very good," Tindall added but Ireland themselves bucked that theory by conceding two shocking tries to England in the opening 25 minutes of their 24-12 loss at Twickenham.
Jacob Stockdale switched right off for that one 🙈 pic.twitter.com/TYdkkl7L9D
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) February 23, 2020
On the latest House of Rugby episode, Mike Tindall is in no mood to (seriously) gloat as he looked back on a sobering afternoon for the 2018 Grand Slam champions.
"They were poor at the weekend, by their standards," says Tindall. "I haven't seen, in that first half, them make that many errors in their own half.
"My biggest thing would be, like Conor Murray, at the moment, is in a funk. He's not a bad player; you don't turn into a bad player overnight. He's a great player but nothing is going right. He's not kicking like he can do, which Ireland build their game off.
"And when you see John Cooney come on, and even Ross Byrne, the difference in the tempo in the pace of the game and in the variety - in terms of actually using the space a bit more - they looked a lot more dangerous at the end of the second half.
"They still need to get their forwards to tip the ball occasionally because you can't win collisions when it's just the one-out runners running into that England defence that was coming up as fast as it was. Coming up against Maro Itoje, Courtney Lawes, who was outstanding, and Sam Underhill destroying people.
"My issue is they never change during a game. When they're getting nowhere, they don't ever do anything different and that's the worry for them. That's what I hoped, at the start of the tournament, as I do think they have great players. I thought that with the change in coach that we might see that bit more adventure and shape off, even, set-pieces. But you don't really see anything."
The 2003 World Cup winner feels Ireland starting Cooney in their next championship outing(s) is imperative and adds that Murray may even benefit from that sub/finisher role for a couple of matches. "I don't think you drop you captain," he says, "even though I don't think Sexton is playing that well at the moment."
Haskell has noticed Tindall copping some grief - in the main from Irish fans - for his views on the playing style (or lack thereof) of the men in green. "He's consistently right," Haskell remarks, "and one day, if you make a (prediction) mistake, the fact that you've been right so many times will be glossed over and you'll still be hammered.
"What some people think is that you've got a vendetta (against Ireland) but you're just giving your level-headed opinion and being honest. But fans of the teams being criticised view it as a personal affront. You love the Irish; you've got loads of Irish mates."
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Alex Payne is joined in the House of Rugby UK studio by James Haskell and Mike Tindall. They discuss all the Guinness Six Nations goings on, 'Bottle Gate' at Murrayfield, CJ Stander and Ireland's glacial changes, and talking "sausages" in interviews.