Eddie O'Sullivan has paid tribute to the defensive mastermind behind Ireland's charge towards their first championship title in 20 years.
Ireland's 19-13 win over England at Lansdowne Road made it three victories in a row in this year's RBS 6 Nations and set up the possibility of a grand slam decider against Wales at the Millennium stadium if both countries can win their next fixtures in a fortnight.
But it was Mike Ford, the Saracens' defence coach who will be working with the British & Irish Lions in the summer, who took the plaudits.
"Mike Ford must get a big mention for delivering a defensive performance like that," said O'Sullivan, who saw Brian O'Driscoll score a brilliant second-half try to add to 14 points from the boot of man-of-the-match Ronan O'Gara.
"Everybody's really believing what we are doing now and to go back two or three years we would not have won that game. We would have leaked a try or two at some juncture and the game would have slipped away from us."
Against England, despite the lead changing six times the discipline instilled by Ford saw Ireland cling on even when they were put under severe pressure in the last 20 minutes.
"There were periods of the game when England were very dominant," admitted O'Sullivan.
"They played great rugby and were stretching the ball from touchline to touchline and very aggressively.
"We had to defend, not just heroically. We needed to throw our bodies on the line and know when and how to throw our bodies on the line. We showed great discipline and that is why they had very few kicks at goal."
Peter Malone has been Nigel Carolan's assistant since 2015
24 March 2017, 11:56am
The IRFU have announced Peter Malone as the Ireland Under-20s interim head coach for the World Rugby Under-20 Championship in Georgia this summer after Nigel Carolan announced he would take a position at Guinness PRO12 side Connacht.