Sunday 18 March 2018

Joe Schmidt reveals how he got Ronan O'Gara on board the Irish coaching team


Joe Schmidt and (inset top) Felix Jones and (bottom) Ronan O'Gara
Joe Schmidt and (inset top) Felix Jones and (bottom) Ronan O'Gara
Joe Schmidt
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt believes Ronan O'Gara, Felix Jones and Girvan Dempsey can add some "spark" to his coaching team after confirming the trio would travel with the Ireland squad on the summer tour of the United States and Japan.

The three former Ireland internationals' time with the squad will over-lap, with O'Gara expected to join for the first part of the tour before handing over to Jones and Dempsey.

Schmidt is likely to be without a host of front-line players who are expected to be named in Warren Gatland's Lions squad on Wednesday, and his defence coach Andy Farrell will also join that tour, but is looking forward to working with some new faces.

"I've had a lot of conversations with Ronan over the years, especially with him being in France and my experiences over there," he said.

"We've conversed often on what's happening there and a little bit about what's happening here. He's indicated that he is keen to get into the environment and just have a bit of a look. So we are going to put him to work and he is going to do some skills coach work for us.

"As is Girvan Dempsey, who is growing in confidence all the time in his role in Leinster, and Felix Jones who has made a really positive impression under Rassie Erasmus in Munster.

"They are three outstanding young men who have fantastic potential to be coaching in this country.

"We want to try to get the best out of them on tour, albeit wanting to give them all an opportunity so they are kind of overlapping with each other for the best part of 8-10 days the first one and then 7-9 days for the other two.

"I am really looking forward to working with them. I have worked with Girv before and I have worked with Felix in a coach/player relationship and he was superb to coach. I have known Ronan for a long time so I think they will add a bit of a spark to the coaching group.

"The coaching group are incredibly excited about the tour."

Schmidt and his new-look coaching team will get to look at some potential tourists today as Munster host Ulster at Thomond Park and Leinster travel to Galway to take on Connacht.

Leo Cullen has opted to rest most of his front-liners for the Sportsground clash ahead of next week's Champions Cup semi-final against Clermont, although Adam Byrne returns from injury, while Erasmus has picked a strong team but still cannot call on injured pair CJ Stander and Conor Murray.

Irish Independent

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