Friday 20 September 2019

'We looked dishevelled out there to be honest' - Joe Schmidt's scathing assessment after Ireland's heavy loss to England

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the match against England. Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during the warm-up before the match against England. Action Images via Reuters/Matthew Childs

Rúaidhri O'Connor in Twickenham

Joe Schmidt described Ireland’s "dishevelled" performance at Twickenham as a "serious problem" and called on his team to rebound from their record defeat against England when they take on Wales next week.

The Ireland coach watched his team fall to the worst defeat of his time in charge and said a host of areas fell well below the level he expects from the side.

With two games against Wales between now and the opening World Cup game against Scotland on September 22, the pressure is on Ireland to find their form or face disaster in Japan.

And their experienced coach was not sugarcoating the display in the 57-15 loss.

"It is a serious problem," he told Sky Sports.

"You've got to make sure that you can rebound from this and get a number of the different elements in the game back in order.

"There were so many aspects that we didn't get right today that we looked dishevelled out there to be honest.  

"I know we had to make a number of changes and hopefully the guys who came off are okay. There are a number of things we're going to have to look at over the next 48 hours and try to build forward from."

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Schmidt said there was a myriad of issues that he’ll need to address from the eight try loss.

"There's probably a litany of them, to be honest," when asked what his biggest disappointment was in his press conference.

"We didn't get our set-piece going, we didn't really scavenge as well as we would have liked to. We fell off 34 tackles, 21 of them in the first half. 

"There was a little bit of positive in the first quarter. It was tight in that first quarter. Obviously when we went to 10-8 (up), there was a bit of promise there. But it's very disappointing.

"That try just before half-time, when Conor was down and they worked the overlap against 14 men. We've got to be able to defend with 14 men, I certainly would never use that as an excuse, but they did well there. Just to go into the shed at half-time at 22-10, it's a big difference to 15-10 because you're two scores away then.

"I think we were under-done, we were a bit heavy-legged.

"There doesn't have to be too much a margin between two teams, one-v-one, for one to be a bit sluggish and one to be on top of your game. Certainly for some of their guys, they've had two games, this is their third game, and they looked sharper than we were."

Schmidt insisted his team can improve in the limited time-scale available.

"I know we can get better than that, I know we have to," he said.

"I think the players will take responsibility for making sure that they do everything they can to turn it around next week and then build forward the week after that because what really matters is in four weeks' time.

"We've got to go out and be as competitive and as accurate as we can be in Scotland. They had a 30-point margin against them (against France) last week and they turned around to win today. 

"So it's a little bit what happens at this time of the year in the lead-up to a World Cup, you do get some disproportionate scores but we still have to accept that we were not nearly good enough today. We've got to be a lot better next time around."

The coach is sweating on the fitness of prop Cian Healy and scrum-half Conor Murray, but he was reasonably upbeat on their prospects.

"Cian sprained his ankle. He has had an x-ray and that's clear, so we're hopeful. He walked from the pitch so we're hopeful that he'll be ok,” he said.

"With Conor, he passed his HIA. We had a bit of a breakdown in our communications and he wasn't actually meant to go back out before half-time. At half-time we took him off, we were only planning to give him maybe 40 or 50 minutes and give Luke (McGrath) a decent run.

"It's one of the things at this time of the year leading into a World Cup - you are trying to mix and match and give different amounts of time to different players to let them put their best foot forward and also to build a little bit of continuity for some of those guys we haven't had as much time in the team over recent years."

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