Ireland must show the fruits of their labour against Scotland tomorrow to "cement" their progress in their first year under Andy Farrell.
That's the view of attack coach Mike Catt, who believes that much of the work done in the background and in fits and starts on the playing field over the course of the Six Nations and Autumn Nations Cup, will only be appreciated if they can produce an 80-minute performance at the Aviva (live on RTÉ, kick-off 2.15pm).
"Hopefully, tomorrow we can really cement what we are about as a group and go out and play the way we want to play," said the 2003 World Cup winner as he reported a clean bill of health for the squad following today’s light training session.
"We’ve been together for seven or eight weeks now. We need to show real intent in everything that we learnt.
"We’re very disappointed about last weekend across the board, the players as well. This is an opportunity for the players to go into the Christmas break on the back of something pretty special.
"We have done a lot of off-field stuff, making sure we have got the players ready and they understand their roles and what they need to bring tomorrow.
"It has been a relaxed week. I think everybody is very, very clear about what Andy wants from the players tomorrow.
"I think the players that are running out tomorrow need to make sure that what we have done over the last seven or eight weeks, we put it into play now.
"We have seen some new faces on the international scene for the past seven or eight weeks, a little bit of injuries, chopping and changing, trying different combinations.
Ireland lost captain Johnny Sexton, who returns tomorrow, to injury in their opening win over Wales, with lock James Ryan taking over the duties in the out-half's absence.
With former Lions skipper Peter O’Mahony also featuring, Ireland have had plenty of experienced players on the field but Catt has admitted that on-field communication is an area that they have focussed on and simply hasn’t been up to scratch in this international window.
The team’s apparent inability to adapt when Plan A is not working has also been a talking point.
"When you talk about peer pressure and that’s driven by the players and it is something we need to get better at I think," the former England centre (below) said.
"But in the same breath, to play a game at international level, you have to be calm, you have to be patient and you have to stay in the moment so when people are screaming and shouting at each other, but at the moment we're still learning.
"We’re still trying to get to a place where we can execute things and be in the right frame of mind to do that.
"The players certainly hold themselves accountable. But it’s something we can be a little bit better on.
"It’s more about your attacking game. If you’re not in a clear-headed zone, you’re not going to make the right decisions. And rugby union is all about the right decision, whether it is defence, kicking or whatever it is.
"You have to be in a good head space to do that.
"So if you’re getting frustrated with others around you, you need to make sure you get yourself out of that. It’s very easy when people make mistakes to scream and shout about it. But it’s about being composed and moving onto the next thing."
Scotland were not in action last week due to the Covid-19 outbreak among the Fiji squad and will come in fresh to the battlefield.
Whatever about mentality and communication, Catt knows that if Ireland front up with the same attitude to the physical contest as they did against Georgia in last week’s 23-10 win, it won’t be enough.
He said: "A big physical intent is first and foremost.
"We’ve got to embrace this big physical battle that is coming tomorrow and, on the back of it, have this calmness that we can executive how we want the game to be played, to put ourselves in the right decision to go and win the game.
"It’s a pretty simple formula, make the right decisions and a lot of times we put ourselves in a position where we can capitalise.
"They have played exceptionally well over the past four or five weeks. They are fresh. They didn’t have a game last week, so they are pretty fresh.
"They have been very physical at the breakdown, they have been talking about it as well, so we need to make sure we try and get parity there.
"It is always a big physical battle. They came down here in February and it was a big physical battle. We don’t expect anything less tomorrow and hopefully the conditions will allow us to play some good flowing rugby as well."
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