Wednesday 25 April 2018

Joe Schmidt: We won't put social media clampdown on our players

Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt with his players during squad training at Carton House
Ireland's head coach Joe Schmidt with his players during squad training at Carton House
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt says he will not be following England coach Stuart Lancaster's lead by issuing strict social media rules to his players ahead of next month's World Cup.

The English players must follow a set of guidelines, including: "Do not post when you are in a bad mood or immediately after a tough loss" and "do not use abusive, indecent or insulting words yourself" in an attempt to avoid controversy during the tournament.

Expressing sympathy with the pressure Lancaster and England are under as hosts, Schmidt warned his players of the pitfalls of Twitter, but said a strict set of rules would not be applied during the tournament.

"It is mainly a common sense approach," he said. "I'd sympathise with Stu Lancaster and his staff in trying to manage things when you're the host country. It is a lot more difficult. Your profile sky-rockets.

"England, by the population and the interest they generate, are going to have a lot of media following them. I can understand why they are very conscious of it.

"It is not something, thankfully, we've had to be as conscious of, but there is an awareness that everybody is equipped with a camera these days.

Donnacha Ryan during squad training at Carton House
Donnacha Ryan during squad training at Carton House

"Social media is so immediately accessible and permanent."

Schmidt was speaking after he named his team to face Wales tomorrow which includes a host of players in need of a performance to keep their World Cup hopes alive.

Jamie Heaslip captains a side that includes Donnacha Ryan and Keith Earls for the first time since March 2013, with 2014 Player of the Year Andrew Trimble back on the wing after a long absence.

Cian Healy remains Ireland's only World Cup injury doubt as he continues to recover from neck surgery and Schmidt said the loosehead prop would not have to play in one of the warm-up games to be selected in the final 31-man squad if he felt that he was on track to face Canada on September 19.

"There wouldn't be a hard and fast rule, we're very much working week to week with Cian," the New Zealander said. "He's fully participating in some sessions - he did an individual session today and so he's mixing that up.

"We're just hoping the picture gets clearer as we get closer so that we can make a decision that would see him fully fit at least to start the tournament, even if he didn't play prior to it.

"We play (the last warm-up ) two weeks prior to the first game. So if we thought that he might not be fit for England but he'd be fit by Canada I'm not sure what we'd decide, but that would be part of the decision-making process.

"Again that risk-management: can we afford to name him then have him not fit or vice-versa?"

All three of the other looseheads in the squad have been named in the match-day 23 to face Wales, with Jack McGrath starting and Dave Kilcoyne and Michael Bent on the bench.

Bent will cover tighthead prop on the day and it appears his versatility could help earn him a place at the World Cup.

Read more: Joe Schmidt set to cut seven players from Ireland squad in next week

Irish Independent

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