Paul O'Connell: England have 'more variety' than Wales, says Ireland captain after defeat

England play Wales in World Cup opener

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While Paul O’Connell praised England for having “more variety” than their forthcoming World Cup pool opponents Wales, the Ireland captain refused to panic over his own team’s second successive loss in their run of four pre-tournament friendlies.

Having lost at home to Wales last week, Ireland now have two weeks to get ready to face Canada in their World Cup opener and O’Connell said: “I do think the guys are in a good place, we just need to bring it all together now. Any team that does well in World Cups bulds on defence. We can addresss that without flogging each other on the training field.”

As to England, O’Connell added: “They have more variety than Wales. We defended by pumping around the corner, and England hurt us by coming short. They can do damage with Jonny May and Anthony Watson and their speed and footwork.”

May added another try to his score against France at Twickenham three weeks ago and said: “I’ve had an opportunity to put things right after getting dropped (in the Six Nations earlier this year) and to show the improvements I’ve made and gain confidence. I feel I’ve done all I can do but we have good players who are all capable.

“It would be so exciting to start in the World Cup, I can’t wait for the tournament to start and the buzz around the country. There’s a handful of great teams in the world and any one can beat any team on their day. We’re in that top group and it will come down to the day.”

And England’s starting hooker Tom Youngs declared himself happy with his performance after major line-out worries in the Paris meeting with France. “I don’t care about what people outside the circle think or say,” Youngs commented. “But, hopefully, I have answered some of my critics. I didn’t feel under any pressure. I just wanted to go out there and show what I can do. “I don’t see why we can’t win the World Cup. We will go out there and really go for it.”

A poor tackle by Tommy Bowe was a factor in England’s opening try by May, while Simon Zebo was picked off in midair by Anthony Watson for the second, and a line-out steal conceded by Devin Toner was another mistake the Irish will want to iron out.

“We wouldn’t get trigger happy, targeting someone who’s made a few mistakes, and moving them on,” said Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. “We work hard with the personnel we’ve got rather than ripping them apart. It’s served us well [as back to back Six Nations champions] in the last two years and we’ll forge ahead in that manner. There were things England did better than us that we’ll hope to do better than Canada.”