Rory Best says that Ireland would have expected to be in “a better place” after three games at the World Cup.
Ireland are on course for the quarter-finals after Thursday’s 35-0 victory over Russia having fallen to a surprise defeat by hosts Japan.
“We would have expected to have won the three games, but that hasn’t happened,” said captain Best, who sat out the Russia game.
“It was important to get the five points on Thursday.”
Having negotiated an intense schedule at the World Cup, which has included a five-day turnaround between the Japan and Russia matches, the Ulster hooker believes it is important to use the time before the Samoa game on 12 October to regroup.
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He said: “Now it’s important that we take a couple of days just to regenerate and refresh everyone a little bit after what has been a fairly hectic schedule and a five-day turnaround.
“We will get stuck into the Samoa game on Monday and we’ll look at that week, we’ll make sure that we keep improving.
“We said that after the Scotland game and we didn’t do it against Japan, so it’s important that we keep taking steps forward.
After seeing off Russia with a five-try win, Ireland will book their spot in the last eight with a bonus-point victory over Samoa.
While it’s not been as smooth a journey as some may have predicted, beating Samoa will represent a significant milepost in their quest to reach the World Cup semi-finals for the first time.
“Ultimately, where you want to be is knowing that a win and a bonus-point win will guarantee you a quarter-final place,” added Best.
“That’s why we’re here – to play in the quarter-finals. We’ve made no secret of that and that’s where we’re at.”
‘We’re still very assured’ – Best
While the Ireland captain admits that confidence was impacted following the loss to Japan, he insists Ireland remain “very assured” of what they’re capable of as a group.
“Ultimately it’s always going to affect the confidence a little bit,” said Best when asked about the Japan result.
“But I think we bounced back well and I think this group understands what we need to do to play well.
“We understand our core values and we know that we weren’t as good in those areas against Japan.
“You take a look back after the England game and that run of Wales, Wales, Scotland, where we felt in a good spot and we were improving in those three games.
He added: “Sometimes you’ve got to just take it on the chin. We didn’t play as well as we can, Japan played very well and put us under a bit of pressure and used their opportunities.
“In terms of confidence in this group, I think we’re still very assured of what we’re capable of and how we get there.”