Wednesday 28 September 2016

Schmidt wants performance that sets tone for World Cup

Rugby

Published 04/09/2015 | 02:30

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a press conference
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a press conference

Usually, when Ireland take on England at Twickenham it is all about the result, but this weekend's final World Cup warm-up game is all about performance, according to Joe Schmidt.

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The New Zealander yesterday named a close-to-full-strength side before travelling to London last night, with a number of key combinations paired together in the hope that they'll be ready when the tournament kicks off in two weeks' time.

Although he opted not to risk Rob Kearney, who suffered a bruised knee in training, or Cian Healy, who has travelled with the team as 24th man, the coach wants the likes of Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Jared Payne and Paul O'Connell and Devin Toner to gel two weeks out from the big kick-off.

"There's a premium on performance, on getting individuals ready. You always want to get the result - these players are too competitive not to want to get the result," he said.

Building blocks

"But if we didn't get the result and there were a few building blocks put in place, a few things we did a little bit better than last week, we'd come away feeling there's work to be done but we're keen to get working again and build our way through the World Cup.

"We've got to hit the ground running against Canada, but we've got to build game to game because I don't think anyone's kidding themselves that the game at the end of the pool is going to be tougher, based on where they're ranked and what they (France) have done in preparation for this World Cup, and what they've done in previous World Cups."

Kearney had been expected to start against England and trained at Carton House yesterday, but a bruised knee limited his involvement and Simon Zebo has moved to full-back with Dave Kearney coming on to the wing.

Schmidt has resisted the temptation to play Healy, instead opting to give Tadhg Furlong a chance to gain loosehead experience off the bench.

Irish Independent

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