Sunday 24 September 2017

Schmidt: Player management behind big name omissions

Joe Schmidt belives a number of players are best served by not touring to Argentina
Joe Schmidt belives a number of players are best served by not touring to Argentina
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has put most of the high profile omissions from the Ireland tour of Argentina down to “player management” but Ian Madigan will be on the ‘Emerging Ireland’ tour of Romania after his lack of game time with Leinster came back to haunt him.

The Ireland coach opted to bring three scrum-halves and two fly-halves on next month’s tour and that means Madigan, who can cover a host of positions, is left behind with Johnny Sexton and Paddy Jackson named.

Sean O’Brien, Gordon D’Arcy, Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Tommy Bowe and Dan Tuohy have been given the summer off to give themselves a proper pre-season ahead of the 2015 World Cup, with Schmidt looking to the future with a squad that includes newcomers like Munster’s James Cronin.

"It's really just player management,” Schmidt said. “I think there are guys who have had probably continuous niggly injuries that are going to be given a good amount of time in the pre-season to recover from those.

"We believe they will be better served by having a window to rest. Obviously Seanie has come back and has played very few minutes, and it was a discussion that I had with both those two players for example, and there are a number of others as well like Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Dan Tuohy.

"There are a bunch of guys who we believe will be better served by getting a window to fully recover.

"They also, a number of them, have accumulated a number of very brief pre-seasons by the time they go away on Lions tours or the like.”

The decision not to select Madigan was, Schmidt said, a numbers game.

"It's really that we believe to only take two scrum-halves would be very, very difficult so we've gone with three scrum-halves,” he said at the squad announcement in Ballsbridge this morning.

"To go with six halves would have been a real tightening on numbers. The thing for Ian is that he hasn't had much game time lately.

"I've had a really good discussion with Ian, he's going to come in and train with us but he will go on the emerging tour and that will give him and the likes of Ian Keatley who has played really well as well some game time over there and we will still be keeping a close eye on that group as well.”

Dave Kearney’s knee injury keeps him out, so Madigan is joined on standby by Craig Gilroy, Dave Foley and a number of others who will be confirmed at a later date.

Schmidt is hoping to keep the momentum going from the Six Nations win against an understrength Pumas side next month.

“I’d like to think the team can perform well and keep some continuity going from the Six Nations,” he said.

“I felt that we finished November last year with that performance against the All Blacks while not quite getting over the line.

“Although we didn’t quite beat England at Twickenham, I still think that they’re a super team and we worked our way through that really well. I think our primary thing.

“And it’s to build a little bit of depth, a little bit of competition for those places to give players the opportunity to prove that they’re worth the places because any time you go to Argentina, speaking to people who toured there, it is going to be combative.”

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