Wednesday 16 October 2019

Joe Schmidt defends South Africa tour selection calls amid criticism

Matt Healy is set to be called up to the Ireland squad Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Matt Healy is set to be called up to the Ireland squad Photo: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has defended accusations that he is picking the Ireland squad on reputation rather than form, but stressed that past performance in an Ireland shirt is a major factor in his selections.

The New Zealander has come in for criticism after leaving all of Connacht’s back three players out of his squad to tour South Africa in the aftermath of their stunning display in Saturday’s Guinness Pro12 final win over Leinster.

News that Luke Fitzgerald will miss the summer tour as a result of a knee injury suffered in that game opens up a slot on the plane, with Matt Healy set to be called up. Although an IRFU tweet announcing his inclusion was subsequently deleted, it is understood the player has been informed that he will travel.

“I don’t think the word ‘reputation’ is applicable,” Schmidt said. “Performance is. A number of those guys (selected) have performed well at Test level.

“It’s one of the tough decisions to make, with the likes of Keith Earls there, Andrew Trimble had a great season, he was carrying a bit of an injury when he played in the semi-final, I factored it in.

“Luke was sensational in that game. One of the Leinster players who did have a good game at the weekend was Dave Kearney, he did some very good stuff.

“So, it’s very competitive position. If they were second-rows they’d probably have a better chance.”

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