Banbridge man Rory Best chose to take the positives from his first run-out as Ireland captain after a 16-16 draw against Wales.
Best, who was also earning his 90th Irish cap in the Six Nations’ opening game, said he was ‘reasonably happy’ with the result.
“I think it’s a strange result, a draw nobody is overly happy with but at 16-13, you look at the Welsh defence and we’re probably reasonably happy with the draw,” he said.
“I think for us it’s about concentrating on bits of the performance we’re very happy with and there are bits we know we can do a lot better with.
“One thing we talked about and wanted to concentrate on was our start.
“I think we started very, very well. The flip side of that is we’re obviously disappointed with the last ten minutes of that half.
“We let them back in when we had a good firm hold of things. A draw, keeps us in it, keeps us in the championship and it’s a lot better than a loss.”
Sunday was all about the team performance but Best did manage to enjoy his first match as captain.
He said: “I think it’s something that you have to try and enjoy, especially that sort of 24 hours or so post the team run through to kick-off.
“It feels like it drags but when you look back it goes in a flash.
“The big thing for me was the senior players that we have in the squad and the way we shared that leadership. It takes a little pressure off.
“As a forward it was a fairly enjoyable game to be a part of. I think when you come off the pitch in the front five and you’re a bit battered and bruised that’s always a good thing.
“There’s no doubt today we’re battered and bruised.
“In terms of captaining, the boys makes it very easy, the coaching staff and everyone, we definitely share that responsibility and share it well.”
The scrum was something of a problem for Ireland in the first-half but Best sought to put it right at half-time.
“I think it’s something we talked about at half-time. We had to hit out, we had to get our right shoulder out just to stop them trying to slide round.
“The balance in the first-half didn’t really help us. You have to keep working.
“We want to stay square and put a stable platform on there, we definitely got there in the second-half but we’re disappointed we didn’t get enough opportunity to do that in the first-half.”
This weekend’s opponents, France, are notoriously strong in the set-piece.
Best said: “I think probably to start France, it’s one area of their game that, in club rugby and international rugby, that they’re particularly strong.
“There’s probably areas of their scrum are probably quite similar to Wales, they look for angles and they don’t necessarily always want that straight contest.
“For us, they’re aspects of that second-half that we’re happy with but there’s no doubt that France are dangerous there.
“We’ll have to dissect that and make sure we have a good plan.