08:27 14 Feb 2021

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Former Leinster and Connacht player Andy Dunne didn't hold back when discussing Ireland's performance following their two-point loss to France in the Guinness Six Nations on Sunday. 

Andy Farrell's side were beaten 15-13 by the French at the Aviva Stadium, ending any realistic hopes of winning the championship.

Speaking to OTB Sports, Dunne said there are positives to be taken from the 80 minutes but he's concerned about Ireland's lack of creativity in attack.

"It's a hard watch at the moment. We present now like a heavyweight boxer with a great attitude who works hard and loses on points.

"We don't have cutting edge in our game and in our attack really in any way, which is disappointing.

"There are some positives to take.

"The work rate, the work ethic is there. The attitude is very much hard work, lots of endeavor - they are positives, but it's a big worry when you watch an Irish side for 80 minutes who manage three offloads and have such a lack of cutting edge in attack.

"Unfortunately, it's a pattern that has continued from the tale end of the Joe Schmidt era and now it's arguably more blunt - we're not using the clever starter plays that Joe would have used with the team that gave us some level of creativity and attack, that seems to have faded from our game, so now it's lots of hard work, lots of effort but very little return."

Much of the narrative surrounding this game throughout the week surrounded Billy Burns and his selection at out-half after Johnny Sexton was ruled out after failing to come through the HIA return to play protocols.

Dunne felt he had a good game when he featured in the first 40 minutes but also that he shouldn't be the starting number 10.

"I think Billy Burns had a reasonably good first-half, in terms of his overall performance. He missed an easy enough penalty and he got an easy enough penalty so I suppose one from two, 50-50 on the kicking.

"What he did do well, as mundane as it sounds, he peppered the back three, he launched a lot of high balls on Brice Dulin, good high balls, he put Dulin under pressure.

"In terms of the overall implementation of the strategy that was asked of him, Billy Burns did a good job in that first-half.

"I'd like to see a different strategy and I'd like to see a different 10 implementing that strategy."

Ireland take on Italy in two weeks time and both sides are the only pair left looking for their first wins of the campaign.

Dunne feels now is the time to experiment with Ireland's selection and to give younger players a chance.

"I think it's a real case of if not now, when?

"We're almost two years into our four-year world cup cycle and I think we absolutely need to give younger players a chance at the moment.

"I think Sexton will continue and I presume will continue in terms of his captaincy and as a first-choice starter however, I think Ross Byrne and Billy Burns are not the options.

"I think Jack Carty is a better option and I think we've got to be brave.

"To me I think the time is right to make some drastic changes because our attacking game has become so stunted and stale - it's a difficult watch.

"If we want to make some changes, we're going to have to go through some pain and we're going to have to have some poor performances and blood some young players.

"The Six Nations happens every year, do we have to treat every next game as a must-win or at some stage do we say we have to develop some different approach to our attack to have a better performance at the next world cup.

"If the world cup is our priority, we need to change what we're doing.

"The notion that we stack a team against Italy, who haven't barely won a match in six years, just for fear of losing, that's a sad notion - we need to be more brave than that."

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