Monday 16 January 2017

Schmidt looks to lower expectation levels

Published 14/11/2016 | 02:30

Schmidt is staying focussed on the job in hand. Photo: Sportsfile
Schmidt is staying focussed on the job in hand. Photo: Sportsfile

Joe Schmidt has revealed that the after-effects of Ireland's win over New Zealand and subsequent travel home from Chicago lasted long into last week as players struggled to get over their jet-lag.

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According to the head coach, one player even slept it out at the team base in Carton House, Maynooth. He didn't name the player, but as a stickler for discipline and detail, it won't have sat well and he conceded that it had an impact on selection for Saturday's 52-21 victory over Canada.

Ireland had a clean bill of health leaving the Aviva Stadium on Saturday night and hope to welcome Iain Henderson back to full training this week.

Saturday's re-match against the world champions has long sold out and the expectation levels will be off the charts, but Schmidt is staying focussed on the job in hand.

"I am just sticking in the bubble, it doesn't bear thinking about for me," he said.

"It is funny, after we won in Chicago you get back to your hotel and are kinda looking through the game, you get to the airport, you fly back, you arrive at 5.50 in the morning and then you are out to the hotel and straight back into the bubble.

"You don't get to enjoy or reflect, because you are straight into Canada. If you don't respect them they will potentially knock you over.

"Especially when, on Tuesday, we had one guy who slept way over because he was just so out of kilter, we had other guys who couldn't sleep at all and were flat at training because they had no fuel in the tank and so it affected selections for this week to a degree.

"So one of the things about being in the bubble is we will just try to get back out there really well rested, really well prepared and hopefully that is our part of the deal and I know what other people will bring and I think that will be a jam-packed Aviva with lots of volume.

"We will try to I suppose live up to deserving that, by the performance we put in."

New Zealand hope to be able to field their first-choice second-row pairing for the return clash at the Aviva after the experienced Brodie Retallick made his return from concussion in their 68-10 trouncing of Conor O'Shea's Italy.

Sam Whitelock is still walking with a limp as he recovers from his ankle injury, but reports in New Zealand indicate he could be cleared to make his return.

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