Saturday 17 February 2018

Schmidt rejects Hansen favourites' tag and claims of 'disrespect'

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt. Photo by Matt Browne/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has laughed off All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's suggestion that his Ireland side should be favourites for tomorrow's rematch.

The World Cup-winning supremo made the claims as he announced five changes to his team from the one that lost in Chicago and attempted to cast his collection of stars as the "under-dogs" for the return fixture.

Schmidt, who included Seán O'Brien for the injured Jordi Murphy as the only change to his side, dismissed the idea that Ireland, who are rated as 7/1 outsiders, could be considered favourites.

"You'd love to think that way, wouldn't you? But I wouldn't suggest that be become a bookmaker," he said. "I think we're at about 6/1. Not that we're allowed to indulge in that, but it's probably better than the 12/1 or 13/1 we were in Chicago. Maybe comparatively we're a little better off, but you certainly wouldn't put us as favourites.

HICCUP

"A team that have won 18 in a row against some of the best teams in the world, and done it by some margin... everyone is due a hiccup. I felt we deserved to get our nose in front when we did, the players rolled their sleeves up and hung in, and managed to protect the lead we had. I don't think they're going to afford us any head starts this week."

Schmidt also hit out at the notion that Ireland were disrespected by New Zealand ahead of the Chicago game.

Speaking to independent.ie, Luke Fitzgerald suggested that Hansen's team selection "showed a little bit of arrogance and disrespect", while former All Black Craig Dowd has criticised their choice of Haka. It was unclear to whom the Ireland coach was responding, but he was keen to address it.

"I certainly don't believe that there was any disrespect or arrogance from the All Blacks," he said. "I think that's one ex-player shooting from the hip and completely unaware of the feeling within the camp.

"They were very tough to beat last time and they're going to be tougher to beat this time. We've got huge respect for them."

Irish Independent

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