WATCH: 'He can be pretty cutting' - Luke Fitzgerald lifts the lid on Joe Schmidt's intense team meetings
Published 01/02/2017 | 19:52
Joe Schmidt's video review sessions and team preparation meetings have become legendary but few outside the Ireland set-up understand what's involved.
In this week's episode of The Left Wing, Luke Fitzgerald offers an insight into how the Kiwi sets the mood at the beginning of each training camp at Carton House.
In what must be a very nerve-racking ordeal, Schmidt outlines the moves he wants to execute in upcoming games and then takes the players out of the room to run through them.
If a player is out of position or hasn't quite grasped what Schmidt is asking for, he is swiftly taken out of the dry run.
Fitzgerald admits that on more than one occasion he has been called out for letting a move fall down but believes it is an excellent way to get players clued in to what Joe requires of them.
"You have two weeks before the Six Nations starts and what he'll usually do is try and prepare for the second week in the first couple of days in camp," he said.
"He'll have the moves for that set up and thought up before you even get to that week.
"It can be a very relaxed environment when you go in, you have a lot of friends from the other provinces, you're catching up, you're having a bit of a laugh and then all of a sudden you are thrown into this meeting.
"You have a meeting on the Sunday night and it can be a rude awakening for guys. He'll have five or six moves that you have to know and you have to know exactly where you are supposed to be, what you are trying to achieve in each position and what usually happens is that after the meeting, he'll go out and test you on the moves.
"There is a little hallway just outside the meeting room and let me tell you, I've had a few rude awakenings there.
"You get put into one of the teams running the plays and them if you get one move wrong he'll say 'we just lost the ball because Luke didn't know where he was supposed to be... Simon (Zebo) or Keith Earls, let's see if you know the move'.
"It's a great way to get everyone bedded in early.
"They know what's expected. They know the moves they need to know and I think they know the standard required and that's the great thing about it.
"He's able to build that culture straight away.
"He does understand that it's important for everyone to get on well but when it's time to work. It's time to work under Joe.
"He can be pretty cutting. It's great because people need to know what's required. He's brilliantly at letting you know that pretty succinctly.
"He is the guy that has given us the edge, even if he doesn't have all his best personnel available.
"Ireland are always really competitive and that is probably down to the backroom staff he has and the job that he does."
Watch this week's episode of The Left Wing below, where Fitzgerald also discusses Joe Schmidt's meticulous attention to detail, as well as analysing all of Ireland's Six Nations opponents.
'Six Nations coverage on the Left Wing, in association with Aer Lingus, the official airline to the Irish rugby team.
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