Andy Farrell feels two battling wins to open the Six Nations have Ireland “in a great place” ahead of their trip to face England at Twickenham.
Ireland saw off defending champions Wales with a 24-14 bonus-point win in Dublin on Saturday.
Jordan Larmour, Tadhg Furlong, Josh van der Flier and Andrew Conway scored as Farrell’s men answered critics who had questioned them following an unconvincing opening win over Scotland.
Farrell conceded Ireland are still not at their peak but could not be happier with the base they now have to build from before facing England on February 23.
“The things that you’re working on, it isn’t going to come to fruition straight away,” the Ireland head coach said to RTE.
“But what you want to try and see is a bit of fight and we’re certainly seeing that over the two weeks – it puts us in a great place to keep building.
“Two from two and still plenty to do. It was another gutsy, gritty performance. First half we created opportunity after opportunity and we probably didn’t convert as much as we possibly should have.
“I’ve absolutely no doubt that Wales were really pleased with the half-time result because of the strong wind and the opportunities we didn’t convert, but how we managed that second half against a strong wind was really clinical.
“Our defence was superb and our set-piece tightened up. There are some good signs of what we’re trying to do. I’ve just said to the boys that it’s a great place to be, knowing what we’re trying to achieve and we’re nowhere near that yet.
“If you’ve got a foundation like that, you can build massively.”
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) February 8, 2020
CJ Stander, man of the match for the second straight week having faced Scotland at blindside flanker and Wales at number eight, was among players to win the praise of Farrell, as did captain Johnny Sexton and his two wings.
“He was awesome, he is a guy who has come in for a bit of stick as well, but he’s got two man of the matches – those performances say it all about the guy,” Farrell said of Stander, who was sent to the sin-bin in the final moments of the contest.
“I’ve never seen a standing ovation for a yellow card before but he deserved it.”
Of Sexton, Farrell added: “He’s in control, isn’t he? That’s what he’s done all his life and that’s what he does best. With the added responsibilities of captaincy, I think he’s added to his game, actually.
“And Andrew Conway was outstanding. We want our wings to go at it 100 per cent and he defined that. Jacob Stockdale did the same on the other wing as well.
“We want to play to space because we’ve got some really exciting backs and we like to give them one on ones. We were excellent, on the front foot in defence and attack throughout.
“We wanted to be nice and physical right through. We had some big moments last week, especially when we had to dig deep to hold on and win but here we got that intensity 100 per cent across the 80 minutes.
“We’re in a great place, we had a great week’s preparation and good, honest feedback from the boys in the aftermath to the display against the Scots.
“We saw an improved performance, but we all know, the coaches and the players, there is still plenty more in us even after a bonus-point win.”