Sunday 25 September 2016

Schmidt sanguine as pressure eases

Published 13/03/2016 | 02:30

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt admitted Ireland's win had "released the pressure valve" amid a testing Six Nations campaign.

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"I know that people question decisions I might make or the way we might play: but I guarantee I question that more," said Schmidt.

"I'm always trying to think about how best we can utilise the resources we have, how we can best exert pressure on the opponents we have. And that's the challenge for coaches, also to keep things fresh, to challenge players.

"When you've got a squad of 34 in camp you've got 34 individuals to try make sure they are as collective as they can be. They are all questions you ask yourself. I rely a huge amount on the leadership group, the players with experience, to give a bit of feedback, even on other players, how they are adapting and fitting in.

"They might speak to them more often than I do, because I don't want to intimidate players or annoy them by talking to them all the time.

"It's always something you're looking back at, trying to reflect on and raise the bar if you can."

Schmidt confirmed Ireland expect to have Cian Healy, Eoin Reddan and Rob Kearney all fit for the final Six Nations clash with Scotland. Ireland's injury worries forced Schmidt to target a mid-table finish as a reasonable return ahead of the tournament.

Schmidt said the quick progress of blossoming talents like Josh van der Flier and Ultan Dillane can hand Ireland cause for optimism despite a frustrating sequence of results.

"It's really tough to consider reasonable returns, because we always want a little more than that.

"We're really disappointed and I know other people are that we haven't met the expectation that we have of ourselves, because it's an Ireland jersey, and an Ireland team, regardless of who's got that jersey. What would be really reasonable for us and what we will hopefully profit from in the future is that we've had a couple of guys emerge here that we're really excited about."

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