Thursday 18 January 2018

Joe Schmidt reveals how his mum didn't accept his apology for beating her beloved All Blacks

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt celebrates victory after the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago last weekend
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt celebrates victory after the International rugby match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field in Chicago last weekend
David Kelly

David Kelly

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has admitted that his mother may not have accepted his apology for his role in downing the All Blacks last weekend.

"She thought my apology was false and she was right! But I was delighted we won the game and I suppose she was as well."

Schmidt was speaking as he unveiled a side to face Canada which shows wholesale changes from that which defeated the All Blacks in Soldier Field, Chicago, last weekend.

But a side that features experienced players such as Peter O'Mahony and Lions stalwarts Sean O'Brien, Keith Earls and Cian Healy can never be interpreted as forming a weakened selection.

"This is a genuine opportunity for players to put their hands up," added Schmidt. "It is open-ended in terms of selection.

"They need to do their jobs to get that opportunity this week. We won't want to underestimate Canada either."

A number of players will make their debuts and the most exciting introduction for many will be Garry Ringrose in midfield while, at the other end of the spectrum, 31-year-old Billy Holland earns a long-awaited international debut after spending so many years as an understudy to the likes of Paul O'Connell and Donncha O'Callaghan amongst others.

"Garry was really close to playing last week, he has trained well and given us confidence that he is ready and we have no doubt that he will be.

"He has experience either side of him so it is an outstanding entry to international ruby for him. Like Marshall was outstanding in South Africa.

Garry is a natural player, he reads the game and can be ahead of it. And being lean and strong, hecan slip through tackles and get over the gain-line and he is astute in defence.

"It would be too much of a risk for Iain because if he took a knock he may miss two weeks and now he will have a week of full training.

"Luke has a lot of good skills, especially from ten and you saw that on tour when he kicked through for a Jared Payne try. He will give direction to players either side of him because the the ten can have his hands full at times.

"Jack has been with us for the best part of a year and I have been keeping an eye on him since he captained the Ireland u20s and he is very versatile and will benefit from experience in the back-row.

Billy Holland has delivered quality work-rate and he is very astute in the lineout although he is not a particularly huge man. while inexperienced at test level, his experience will be vital even if Ultan Dillane has more test caps.

"He knows what needs to be done really well and he does it so well with Munster, who were so strong for so long in the second-row for so many years. but he has stepped up in recent years.

"Peter and Sean will be frustrated perhaps but I want them to be focused and I know they will do that for the group.

"we were tempted to play them last week but we were worried about them taking a knock early on, as it transpired, it happened anyway but it was a long afternoon in heat for Josh van der Flier.

"But we were confident that he could deliver because he had the match time under his belt."

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