Sport Rugby

Saturday 24 March 2018

Schmidt set to take Ireland hotseat

'Under pressure' Blues boss keen to draw line under speculation

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JOE SCHMIDT's expected appointment as Ireland coach could come as early as today as the Leinster boss wants to draw a line under the speculation.

The New Zealander admitted to being "under pressure" to deliver news to the province so that they can go about finding a replacement for next season, but insisted that the issue has not affected his side's preparation for tomorrow's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final against Biarritz.

He will have time today to follow up on last week's interviews with the IRFU.

"I know it will be soon because I'm under pressure here at Leinster as well," he said yesterday. "Once there's clarity, everyone can move forward and I'm pretty keen to do that.

"I think it was a really good chat (with the IRFU) and it was a good opportunity to answer a few questions and ask a few questions.

"With a team like Biarritz coming to town, it is not too much of a distraction. You have got to keep your focus fully on what is immediately in front of you."

Schmidt confirmed that Dave Kearney is out after the concussion he suffered from the accidental Paul O'Connell kick.

He is expected to name Jonny Sexton ahead of Ian Madigan at out-half, but stressed that both men will have a part to play. "It is a decision we are close to making," he said.

Leinster were tight-lipped over the growing speculation that Gordon D'Arcy might not be available.

It is believed that Madigan is a contender to slot in at inside-centre if D'Arcy is ruled out.

Irish Independent

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