VIDEO: George Hook on Joe Schmidt - 'It's nonsense talk to say he'll coach New Zealand'
Published 19/03/2016 | 19:32
Ireland ended the 2016 Six Nations campaign with an impressive 35-25 win over Scotland, running in four tries in the process, which gives them a final tally of two victories, two losses and a draw.
It was the first time that Joe Schmidt didn't deliver four wins in a Six Nations championship and while he will be keen to stress the positives of finishing with consecutive wins, ultimately he is sure to be disappointed.
There were both plus points and negatives to take from Ireland's performance over the five games, and George Hook went through them after today's game on Independent.ie.
He started with the reasons to be cheerful.
"Ireland's fly-half and scrum-half are as good as any in the world while we have found a really good back row in CJ Stander," he said
"They are the pluses."
"Stander is now the best back row forward in Ireland bar none," Hook also said at half time.
"I would prefer to see him at eight. You would use his ability better at eight and have Jamie Heaslip at six."
However, there were also areas where Hook feels Ireland still falls short.
"We are one dimensional in attack, that is the first negative," he said.
"The second negative is that against England, Italy and Scotland we allowed six tries out wide without a hand being laid on the attacker. That is extraordinary. Also, we need to get a finisher on the wing. There is no point in passing the ball to the wing if you don't have a finisher."
"To finish third the way we are playing is quite an impressive achievement," Hook concluded.
As for today's game, Hook described it as 'strangely unsatisfying'. Despite owning the ball for 80% of the opening half, Ireland relied on a one-yard burst from CJ Stander and a gift to Keith Earls after a defensive mix-up to get over the line.
Hook stills feels that Ireland's attack isn't good enough to put away the top sides.
"This is a side that can't put teams away because they don't have a surgical skill to put teams away," Hook said.
"Scotland were more inventive. I'm not being critical. When you have as much possession as we had in the second half, we should have kicked on and we didn't and I don't know why.
"Decent [the win] but strangely unsatisfying. If you were to talk to the faults in this match, it was the same from the first game against Wales. Dominate the first half, fail to deliver in the second half. We gave away two terrible tries out wide."
Hook also addressed Joe Schmidt's future, with the Ireland coach's contract up in the summer of 2017. To hear that discussion, you can watch the video embedded above.