'I sensed we were a little bit vulnerable'- Joe Schmidt admits to concerns prior to Welsh draw
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has revealed that he worried about the mindset of his players prior to this afternoon’s scintillating draw with Wales.
After another deflating World Cup, the subsequent poor showing of the Irish provinces in European competition and indeed, the increasingly large list of players unavailable through injury, many had forecasted that Ireland would be on the wrong end of a substantial loss at the hands of Wales at the Aviva Stadium.
However, Schmidt’s men dug in and battled tooth and nail to earn a well-deserved draw against the heavily fancied Welsh outfit.
Over the last fortnight, the message coming from the Irish camp was that there was no inclination from their point of view that there was an air of doom and gloom surrounding the fate of the game here. When speaking to RTÉ directly after the game, the head coach said he only picked up that consensus when announcing his match day squad.
“We just exist in a bubble. I got a little bit of an impression of that [negatively around Ireland] in the press conference on Friday. I did sense as well that we were a little vulnerable to be honest today.
“We had Dev (Toner) and Rory (Best) back today, but besides that it was a very new group. When you put those new players in it’s often the new guys to come off the bench, so you’re going a little deeper into your resources.
“While we’re confident in what we’re developing here, it’s a time thing. There’s guys who I thought acquitted themselves really well today.”
As far as Ireland’s first showing in a Championship that are seeking to retain for a second time in as many years, Schmidt admitted to having mixed feelings. Ireland had raced into a 13-point lead after a blistering start but a Johnny Sexton penalty was required to secure a draw.
“I can’t feel elated. A little bit deflated because we built that 13-0 advantage and I thought it was on the back of some strong work on both sides of the ball.
“I thought our defence was superb in that first 20 minutes when we kept them off our line until they got those couple of scrums that they managed to get over.
“At the other end I felt we go down there three or four times in the first half and converted three scores to get those 13 points. So there are some things to be positive about,” he added.