Ryan Baird: ‘You wouldn’t believe how much more we have in us, it’s frightening’

Ireland clinched back-to-back Six Nations titles
Back-to-back Ireland clinched their second consecutive Six Nations titles against Scotland on Saturday (Brian Lawless/PA)

IRELAND may have just won the Six Nations but second-row Ryan Baird says that the team knows that they have a higher ceiling than back-to-back championships.

Baird came on 56 minutes into the game against Scotland on Saturday, with the outcome in the balance and Ireland playing against an opposition that didn’t seem to get the memo that this was Ireland’s day.

However, despite the surprise that Ireland didn’t completely dominate the game, winning 17-13, Baird thinks that there is a lot more to come from this team.

“There’s so much more, you wouldn’t believe how much more we believe there is, it’s frightening,” said Baird, who won his second Six Nations crown last weekend.

“I think it’s everybody being able to understand how we want to play the game as Irish rugby players, but also being able to execute it.

“Everyone does it [performs to Ireland’s high standards at times, I do it at times but its the consistency where we’re striving for.

“If we consistently be the best Irish rugby players that we can be then I’m really looking forward to the future.”

In that future, they may well be without captain Peter O’Mahony, who many people feel they have seen the last of in a green jersey following Saturday evening’s match.

O’Mahony has clearly gone above and beyond for his squad and made a huge impact on every member in a different way, including Baird, who spoke of the mark the Munster man has made on his career.

“I told him twice today that I look up to him, so much,” said Baird about fellow second-row O’Mahony.

“The way he can be so fun and part of the lads when he’s off the pitch but then the dedication he has to the way he plays rugby and the way he leads us, it’s an absolute privilege to play with him.

“I pinch myself when I get to sit down and talk with him, he’s such an incredible player and more importantly a person.”

Ronan Kelleher and Ryan Baird
Ireland v Wales - Guinness Six Nations - Aviva Stadium Ryan Baird (right) believes their is still more to come from Ireland after their secured back-to-back Six Nations titles with Saturday's win over Scotland (Niall Carson/PA)

Baird, whatever O’Mahony decides, is optimistic about the future, with a two-test tour of South Africa coming up in June and the Autumn Nations series in November, where they will play some of the southern hemisphere’s elite, including New Zealand, Fiji and Australia.

“I only saw it [the fixture list] there recently, I didn’t know we had four. Obviously, if we have two in the summer, we have four in the autumn,” said Baird.

“But yeah, you look at those teams and, we’re going back to our clubs now and by god do I want to win a championship with Leinster, but everything I’m doing is also going to be for playing in green.

“I am desperate to win, even though you don’t want to be desperate, I really want to win a Champions Cup with Leinster, but I’ll also have in my mind that what I’m doing now is going to affect me long-term.”

For now though, Ireland can enjoy a well-deserved Six Nations championship but if Ryan Baird’s words are anything to go by, we haven’t scratched the surface of this Irish potential.