Friday 6 December 2019

Competition for places is Schmidt's aim

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: PA
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: PA

Ronan Loughney

Many suggested the gloss was taken from Ireland's win over Italy by the early departure of Robbie Henshaw and Tadhg Furlong, but Joe Schmidt will be pleased with his squad's position, writes Ronan Loughney.

There are always players who are seen as crucial to a team, but with Schmidt's famed eye for detail, this should be much less absolute. Be sure the Ireland coaching team will have a contingency plan for every potential injury scenario with multiple alternate selections thrashed out.

Such is the nature of the game, and no different to the club competitions, a complete squad with depth and experience is far more important in attaining silverware than relying on the fitness of one or two big players.

Injuries are now part and parcel of the game and every coach strives to achieve a seamless transfer of responsibilities from one player to the next in any particular position.

One of Schmidt's most impressive feats over the past couple of seasons (and with one eye on next year's World Cup) is the depth he has created and experience given to young players without ever seemingly fielding an overly weakened team.

Every member of the winning squad will play a role in some shape or form in the success of whoever eventually goes on to claim the trophy.

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