Sunday 22 October 2017

Joe Schmidt: Johnny Sexton was right to take the penalty

IRELAND head coach Joe Schmidt defended Johnny Sexton’s decision to take the vital penalty kick seven minutes from time which could have handed Ireland victory over the All Blacks.

“Johnny struck it really well. I’d leave it in his hands to deem whether or not he is fit to take the kick. I have a lot of trust in him. I have known him for a few years and I think he was the right man in the right place. He just didn’t get the right result.

“With less than six minutes to go, we could have been eight points in front,” said Schmidt. “Unfortunately that didn’t happen. But with 20 seconds to go, we still had our destiny in our own hands. There are few things that don’t go your way in games and you have to be able react and respond. And we didn’t quite do that. There was fatigue in our guys at the end of the game. A few of our guys were out on their feet. And we looked very tired in the last 15 minutes and especially in the last phase of play.”

Schmidt also said that he stood by his emotional post match comments when he said that “a draw was as bad as a defeat”.

“If we had a kick to draw it at the end, I still think we would have went for the win. 108 years of history – 21 consecutive loses prior to yesterday and now it’s 22. Yes, a  draw would have been better than a defeat but we wanted to win that so badly.

“I feel the same way this morning and I think the players would as well. There has been a draw in the past. When you go out to play a game, you need to have that winning mentality.

Schmidt also paid tribute to  Ireland  fans in the Aviva and the atmosphere in the stadium.

“The fans were amazing in the stadium and they created an incredible atmosphere. I think the players reciprocated in kind. That is the sort of atmosphere that players love to play in and Irish people love to be involved in.

“I feel sorry for the fans who had a great ride for 80-and-a-half minutes but it fell over in the end.”

Speaking to RTE this morning, the Ireland coach admitted that the strength of the All Blacks bench was probably the difference between the two sides.

“The players are extremely disappointed and they worked very hard to put themselves in a position to win the game. Talking to the All Blacks coaches last night, we gave the All Blacks a heck of a fright. But the super subs that they were able to bring on probably changed the game. The likes of Coles, Crotty, Messam just added sufficient value to their team to get them over the line.”

Garreth Murphy

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