Tuesday 16 January 2018

'He's an overly conservative selector' - George Hook stands by Joe Schmidt criticism

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

It was a day that would have pleased Joe Schmidt and the supporters in equal measure as Ireland ran in nine tries in 58-15 walloping of Italy.

One move in particular, finished off by Jamie Heaslip right on half time, illustrated the attacking verve Ireland displayed throughout, with six players combining to score.

There was a lot of negativity surrounding the team before the game, with plenty of focus on Schmidt's team selection. The New Zealander opted for his battle-tested warriors rather than continue to infuse the side with youth but it paid off handsomely in the end.

George Hook was very skeptical of the team's ability to play attacking rugby before the match and despite admitting that he thoroughly enjoyed today's display, he wasn't prepared to completely change his opinion of the Ireland head coach.

Speaking on a livestream on the Independent.ie, Hook was told by co-panelist Mick Quinn to 'give the guy a break' as he continued to question Schmidt's methods.

"This isn't Jesus Christ coming down as the messiah and everything is fixed," Hook said.

"All I'm saying is that he is an overly conservative selector and his game plan is rudimentary compared to what the rest of the world are up to."

His main bugbear from today's game was that Ireland failed to rectify the defensive weakness out wide that saw them concede two scores against England.

"Ireland have conceded two tries against England and two against Italy out wide without a hand being laid on a player," Hook said.

"People talk about the Monday review but that is something that they must have looked at."

"The trick is not getting carried away with the victory," he continued.

"He hasn't fixed what was glaringly obvious in that we have a weakness in defence out wide."

Another argument was caused when the host of the live stream, Newstalk's Richie McCormack, referenced the injuries to key Irish players. While the backline is close to full-strength, Cian Healy, Peter O'Mahony, Sean O'Brien and Iain Henderson are missing from the Irish pack.

However, Hook refused to accept this as an excuse and feels it is a smokescreen by the Irish management.

"The argument that this team is decimated by injury doesn't stack up to forensic examination," Hook said.

"This is coaching PR. There is a whole public relations department backing this thing up that the side is decimated by injury."

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