Tuesday 24 April 2018

Joe Schmidt delivers injury update as USA Eagles coach praises Ireland's 'caterpillar walk'

Joey Carbery of Ireland leaves the pitch with an injury
Joey Carbery of Ireland leaves the pitch with an injury

Brendan Fanning in New Jersey

Nine tries on a typically spirited but limited US Eagles side was perhaps what Joe Schmidt was aiming for.

Whatever his budget for injuries, Joey Carbery is the obvious concern with an ankle injury that may need a scan when the team arrive after the long haul to Tokyo, on Monday evening. Tiernan O’Halloran also left the field early but the coach attributed that to cramp.

“Joey just sprained his ankle a bit chasing across the pitch,” Schmidt said. “He just went to turn back. We thought it pertinent to get him off. We don't know what the story is yet. It hasn't really swelled too much but it was a bit tender so we'll see how it settles and maybe get a scan, either here or once we've arrived in Tokyo.”

He said they didn’t think it was related to the syndesmosis injury Carbery sustained playing for Leinster against Saints and cost him almost two months.

Jacob Stockdale celebrates with team-mates Keith Earls, left, and Tiernan O'Halloran
Jacob Stockdale celebrates with team-mates Keith Earls, left, and Tiernan O'Halloran

“I don't think it's the syndesmosis. Again, we'll have a look. If it's much better tomorrow morning, we'll just treat it like a sprained ankle. He just rolled his ankle really. If it's blown up and it’s very tender, we'll get it scanned.”

The injury completed a miserable evening for the outhalf who was blocked down for two tries as Ireland were trying to exit their 22 having scored themselves.

“I think Joey will keep learning from that,” Schmidt said. “For a guy that has played very little at 10 all season it's very hard to put yourself into what is probably the pressure position, and make all the right decisions. I thought he made some really good ones and created a fair bit of play for us.”

Keith Earls with two tries was Ireland’s best player, by a distance, with Niall Scannell carrying very well up front.

Earlsy usually wants to get the ball all the time,” Schmidt said. “I think after the first 20 minutes he didn't want it any more. He'd already run far enough.

“It was oppressively hot out there and heavy for the players. The other thing at half-time that the lads were saying was the ball was incredibly slippery.

“There was a lot of perspiration on the ball which made it incredibly hard to get long transfers. Shorter transfers were OK but as soon as you wanted to try to get enough bit on the ball to get it wide it was a little bit difficult.”

The Eagles had much greater troubles in far more areas however. And they have RWC qualifiers against Canada at the end of the month.

“Yeah we were outclassed today and we were disappointed with that,” their coach John Mitchell said afterwards. “We had issues around our setting which cost us. And also the lack of defensive resets sets, which was a problem with an effort thing. We just looked like a new team today. Ireland connected very well and clearly their programme is bringing through outstanding athletes.”

“That’s the experience we need,” Eagles captain Nate Augspurger said. “We don’t’ get too many cracks against top 5 teams in the world and when we need to drain everything from it. That experience is really tough to get unless you’re playing at that level.”

US Eagles head coach John Mitchell conceded his side were outclassed by the visitors in New Jersey.

Former All Blacks coach Mitchell, who is leaving his role with the Eagles to take over at the Bulls in Super Rugby next season, must now get his side ready for a friendly clash with Georgia in Atlanta before their 2019 World Cup qualifier play-off against Canada later this month.

"We were outclassed today," said Mitchell.

"We're disappointed with the performance, we had some defensive issues. The pace of the game exposed a couple of guys in our system.

"I didn't expect our scrum to lose the inches. Ireland's 'caterpillar walk' in the scrum paid dividends."

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