Wednesday 28 September 2016

English journalist can't understand George Hook and Neil Francis' views on Joe Schmidt

Harry Clarke

Published 21/02/2016 | 22:13

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

It's quickly becoming a Six Nations to forget about for Ireland and this slump in form has led to plenty of column inches analysing Joe Schmidt's performances as head coach.

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INM columnists George Hook and Neil Francis have been vocal is their assessment with Hook in particular heavily opposed to the New Zealander's conservative approach.

But Telegraph columnist Steve James has other views and cites Ireland's crippling injury list as a huge reason why a third consecutive Championship is beyond Ireland.

"So we have to be careful when assessing the state of Irish rugby from this side of the water, because some of their most-quoted columnists, particularly Neil Francis and George Hook, seem in a perpetual state of ire and outrage," wrote James in the Telegraph today.

"But Hook’s observations on head coach Joe Schmidt in the aftermath of Ireland’s defeat by France that followed a draw against Wales, while remembering that Ireland have actually won the RBS Six Nations for the past two seasons, are undoubtedly worth considering."

James goes on to suggest that his sources in New Zealand tell him that Schmidt is ahead of both Vern Cotter and Warren Gatland if current boss Steve Hansen was replaced right now. High praise indeed.

James also lists off the lengthy injury list and while he agrees that Ireland have been "found out a little", he also accepts that it is a game of fine margins.

Speaking on Independent.ie's live Six Nations panel discussion against Francxe, Hook said this of Schmidt: “It is a miserable defeat. Eventually somebody else is going to have to ask questions about this coach. He has borne a charmed life. There are actually suggestions he is greatest coach in the history of Irish rugby, the greatest coach in the world; that is abject nonsense.

“Schmidt is the Margaret Thatcher of coaching, he is unable to turn. He cannot see the evidence in front of his eyes that the rest of us can see, that this Irish team cannot adapt. It’s based on the most conservative selection, game plan and strategy that I have possibly seen in the professional era."

Read Steve James' full Telegraph column here

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