Ireland v Italy, Six Nations, February 25
Best demands home improvement
February 24, 2012
Hooker Rory Best crossed for a try in Ireland opening Six Nations defeat to Wales © Getty Images
Ireland hooker Rory Best has admitted that his side's record at the Aviva Stadium is simply unacceptable.
The 2009 Grand Slam winners enter their latest Six Nations clash with Italy on Saturday looking to avoid their fourth successive defeat on home soil. Both England and France were victorious at the re-vamped Lansdowne Road stadium in Rugby World Cup warm-up clashes last summer before Wales claimed a famous win in the opening round of this year's battle for northern hemisphere supremacy.
As a result, wooden spoon favourites Italy are likely to sense a first victory over the Irish in the Six Nations with Ireland's woeful return of just three wins from nine matches in their hi-tech home adding further fuel to that fire.
Best has added to his voice to the growing chorus of players determined to transform the Aviva Stadium into a fortress. "We're not happy with our home record and it's something we've talked about," the Ulster hooker said. "You could argue the toss and say we've been unlucky in a few games, but the bottom line is it's three from nine.
"Given the players we have and the way we feel about the stadium, that's not good enough and we know that. It's something we want to address, but we can only do that one game at a time.
"Hopefully as time goes by we'll rectify that record and it will start to look a lot more favourable. The stadium and the set-up are magnificent and everyone loves playing there. But for whatever reason we've lost out in some of the tight games, such as against Wales three weeks ago."
Ireland have been inactive since February 5, when they lost 23-21 to Wales, thanks to the weather-enforced postponement of their game against France. Dispatching Italy will enable them to nudge their campaign back on track before heading to Paris on Sunday week for what will be the pivotal encounter of their Six Nations.
"It feels like an eternity since we've played Wales," said Best. "With the rearranged game it's taken us longer to get back on the pitch. There's a certain level of expectation inside this squad. We have standards that we want to reach.
"We'll give Italy the respect they deserve, but it's also about getting ourselves right. We know Italy are strong in the scrum but we feel our scrum has come a long way over the last two years. We see it as a strength of ours now."
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