Monday 24 April 2017

Schmidt unfazed by Heaslip Twitter leak

David Kelly

David Kelly

Despite his youthful good looks, Leinster coach Joe Schmidt admits he is a "dinosaur dad" when it comes to social media, but he will not be berating Jamie Heaslip for giving him the technological slip this week.

The Ireland star hijacked Schmidt's media briefing yesterday by relaying to all and sundry via Twitter and Facebook the previous evening that his ankle injury would prevent him from playing against Saracens in tomorrow's Heineken Cup clash.

But although Schmidt may have been tempted to confiscate Heaslip's gizmos, the Kiwi admitted that leaking the outcome of the on-off injury saga was not an issue to get too riled up about.

"We met on Sunday and I said, 'look you're not going to be in this week'," explained Schmidt, who seems likely to turn to Heaslip's Irish colleague Sean O'Brien as a reliable substitute.

"After Monday's training we gave him one more chance. It went better but, with the bone bruising, he was pretty uncomfortable on Tuesday.

"I don't know how he let people know. Was he tweeting or something? That technology is beyond me but I can ask my kids what was happening!

"But, no, it was of no annoyance to me because if I wanted to hide the fact, we would have hidden up until Friday when the team was announced," said Schmidt.

Still, with Liverpool footballer Ryan Babel the latest sports star to hit the judicial buffers thanks to Twitter, the whole arena remains under scrutiny. Rugby has not escaped controversy either following incidents involving Danny Care and Sebastien Chabal last year and only yesterday England coach Martin Johnson warned about the perils of "loose tweets".

"It's not something I've particularly thought of but I guess it's something we are probably a little blase about," continued Schmidt. "You can damage yourself revealing something that is inappropriate. I guess to be proactive maybe we should have a bit of a chat about it."

One doesn't need to re-tweet the fact that O'Brien forms more than an adequate replacement for the stricken Heaslip, Schmidt asserting that the future remains brimful of possibilities for the Tullow man.

"Sean's a really different player to Jamie," said Schmidt. "He's a bit younger and is probably a rougher diamond. But potentially, yeah, he could become world-class.

"I really like Sean as a player, the players that have played with him really like what he brings to the table. He has a real robustness about him and he has a massive work ethic.

"Sean's also underestimated in the air. He's a very good aerial player and he really demonstrated that against Racing Metro. He's quite versatile. He can play anywhere in the back-row. And he makes good bread too!"

Aside from buttering up O'Brien, Schmidt revealed that Leinster's remaining upper crusts are available; a big call may be who lines out at full-back, with the returning Luke Fitzgerald challenging Isa Nacewa.

"Luke has played three times there for us this season and he trained much more strongly today than he did on Monday," said Schmidt.

It's a decision likely to be edged Nacewa's way, with more than Irish coach Declan Kidney interested in this morning's final call. Presuming nobody posts the team on Twitter or Facebook in the meantime.

Irish Independent

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