Friday 23 February 2018

Schmidt hails Wallabies win as one of his 'proudest days'

Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Joe Schmidt has hailed Ireland's victory over Australia as one of the proudest moments of his career.

The Kiwi watched his side complete a Tri Nations clean sweep but not without having to delve deep into the strength of his squad.

Ireland lost Sean O’Brien to injury prior to kick off and when Rob Kearney, Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne were all forced off early, Schmidt was left with a make-shift backline that somehow managed to muster the courage to claim another famous victory.

“It certainly for me, would be one of the proudest days that I’ve been on the periphery of the team that have shown immense character,” a proud Schmidt said afterwards.

“Kieran Marmion on the wing. His impact tackle on David Pocock to dislodge the ball forward was phenomenal.

“I think Simon Zebo said it was like the creche out here. He was the old guy looking after the kids running around. I think it’s probably reflective of how much control he has as a dad because the kids were all over the place!

“I thought Joey Carbery did a great job. Garry Ringrose again stepped up. And it wasn’t perfect but you probably can’t expect perfection when those young guys step up or attempt to.

“I think we managed to get the edge because the boys up front did a great job. I thought the front-row, obviously (Rory) Besty playing his 100th cap, it’s incredibly special for him but I think it was probably made more special by the occasion.

“Tadhg Furlong continues to grow into the position. Jack McGrath was again really strong. I thought the front-row that came off the bench were good again.

“Pete O’Mahony, it was great to see him out there. You lose a player short of the game, like Sean O’Brien and his replacement gets man of the match. It’s exactly what you’re looking for in the squad. Someone who can step up and Josh van der Flier continues to do it.”

Schmidt confirmed that O’Brien’s hip flexor injury was not serious and that he could play for Leinster next weekend or the week after.

Kearney went off with a head injury but was said to be doing fine in the dressing room. Trimble (ankle) and Payne (leg) will be monitored.

While Michael Cheikea fumed at referee Jerome Garces’ performance, Schmidt was a lot happier than he was compared to this time last week after the defeat to New Zealand.

Once again, Ireland’s discipline was hugely impressive as their three penalty concessions was dwarfed by the Wallabies’ 13.

“It’s always something we’ve tried to be really good at,” Schmidt insisted.

“We try to play to the letter of the law, to the edge of the law because you don’t want to give access points to opponents.

“We felt tonight that things like clear release and rolling away from the tackle, we felt they did a really good job of slowing our ball down. Potentially there could have been a stricter rule across some of those incidents where we were a bit frustrated.

“At the same time, we’ll have a look back at the game. I think Jerome (Garces) kept quite a strong hand on keeping both teams disciplined. And I think across the weekend, you’ve probably seen stronger hand from all of the officials. - making sure that players are trying to be more disciplined and that player safety is being promoted.”

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