Saturday 25 February 2017

No room for error: Schmidt calls for focus in Chicago showdown as Kearney recalled

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a press conference at Trump International Hotel & Towers in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a press conference at Trump International Hotel & Towers in Chicago, USA. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Joe Schmidt says his Ireland team cannot afford any distractions when they take on the All Blacks at Soldier Field tomorrow.

The build-up to the game was overshadowed by the news that two of the team that started Ireland's last game in South Africa, Stuart Olding and Paddy Jackson, have been questioned in relation to a sexual assault, while the city of Chicago has been swept away by the local baseball team, the Cubs, winning the World Series on Wednesday.

But the Ireland head coach, who named an experienced side to take on the world champions yesterday, said they must play with 100pc focus for the entirety of the game as they look to make history.

"We trained pretty well this morning," he said after naming a side that sees Rob Kearney restored to full-back and Jared Payne at centre.

"The players know if they're not focused, the All Blacks' ability to run up scores in the space of 10 minutes - 10 minutes can be 20-plus points. We've seen it.

"That's the nature of the beast when you're playing the All Blacks. They are second to none in their ability to add scores very quickly. So I think the players are feeling that pressure to make sure that they are as well attuned as they possibly can be on the back of training on Monday and Thursday."

Irish Independent

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