Rugby World Cup 2011: Ferris calls for increased Irish focus

Stephen Ferris and Nic Johnson
Stephen Ferris is tackled by the USA's Nic Johnson in Sunday's World Cup game

Stephen Ferris believes that a lack of concentration is the main reason for Ireland's struggles in recent matches.

The Irish face in-form Australia in Saturday's World Cup clash at Eden Park after Sunday's unconvincing win over the USA followed dismal form in August.

"We show week in-week out with our provinces that our handling skills are just as good as anybody," said Ferris.

"It is just a mindset going into the game that we need to lift our concentration that little five or 10%."

Ferris was arguably Ireland's most impressive performer in the 22-10 win over the US as he showed that he had fully recovered from the knee injury which ruled him out of the entire Six Nations.

The Ulster player regularly powered over the gain line on Sunday and he insists that the Irish forwards believe that they can match the Australian pack in this weekend's clash despite their opponents impressing in their opening 32-6 win against Italy.

"I think our set-piece was fantastic and also our maul was very good. We won a lot of penalties.

"If we can produce that ball again our backs will do a lot more with it.

"It is definitely going to be a lot tougher at the set-piece this week but at the same time we are fairly confident with the forward pack that we will get the same type of ball."

Jamie Heaslip believes nerves affected a number of Ireland's World Cup newcomers in Sunday's game - himself included.

"I felt like it was my first cap to be honest," added the number eight.

"I was nervous and I'm sure a lot of the other guys who hadn't played in World Cups were nervous."

Heaslip added that he knows full well that the Irish forwards are going to face a huge task in Saturday's Pool C encounter.

"We are going to have to carry the ball hard and run at them and then on their ball be very physical on the line and win the battle of the gain line and go from there."

Ireland's backs coach, Australian Alan Gaffney, also spoke of a belief that the Irish were "up to the task" of matching the Wallabies.

Gaffney, a former assistant coach with the Wallabies, said the mistakes in Sunday's stuttering display were down to minor issues which could be easily fixed.

"We've got to make sure we get our alignment right instead of taking too much out of the ball, going too far into contact and creating too much pressure on the outside support players," added Gaffney.

"They're little areas we're not quite getting right at the present time.

"It is not necessarily a skill level thing but it is some of those decisions. That is where a lot of the errors are coming from."

Geordan Murphy missed Ireland training on Tuesday because of a minor hamstring niggle but is expected to be available for Saturday's game in Auckland.

Tony Buckley is also likely to be in contention for selection despite sustaining a bruised shoulder in the USA game.