Wednesday 21 March 2018

'I'm not quite sure how they worked that out' - Joe Schmidt bemoans Six Nations fixture list

Joe Schmidt will pit his wits against Guy Noves on Saturday
Joe Schmidt will pit his wits against Guy Noves on Saturday Newsdesk Newsdesk

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has questioned how the Six Nations fixtures were compiled after his side face into a six-day turn-around from their bruising 16-all draw with Wales for the trip to Paris on Saturday.

Commentators like George Hook have been highly critical of the fact that Ireland will have such little time to recover from a full-throttle Test match.

“There is a real morale dilemma for people who watch this game now. Do we, like ancient Romans, watch a sport which is essentially beat the hell out of each other or do we watch a sport which is about skill and talent," Hook said.

“I think we are going in the wrong direction. You are right. Six days is absolutely unfair.”

Speaking on Morning Ireland on RTE Radio One today, Schmidt was clearly unimpressed with the fixture structures in the competition.

"That's the reality of the draw. I'm not quite sure how they worked that out. I've never seen a draw quite like this one," he said.

"Getting such a big team first up and having the ball in play for 39-odd minutes and both teams were suffering at the end of it a bit, they (Wales) have to welcome Scotland at the weekend and it's a little more complicated for us travelling to France.

"We'll get one training in on Thursday and we'll have a light run today and we'll see how we go."

Asking what he made of France's narrow 23-21 success over Italy at the Stade de France, Schmidt said he expected a more cautious approach from Guy Noves' side.

"Incredibly dangerous. It was probably what they set out to do but they'll reflect on that  and maybe they tipped the scale too far towards play-at-all-costs and maybe we'll see a little bit more of a structure from them," he added.

"I think some of the athletes demonstrated the pace and the power they have, the likes of Vakatawa and I've always had respect for the likes of Maxime Medard on the counter-attack. That's going to be something we're going to have to be very good at defending.

"It didn't look great for Louis Picamoles, I don't know what his injury situation is but he might not come back."

Schmidt refused to rule out Keith Earls returning for the trip to the French capital and expects the rest of his squad to be available for selection.

"We've got a few guys who might struggle to back up. We've got guys who came off with knocks. Tommy O'Donnell was fine and was very perky after the game

"Keith Earls got a knock as well and we're just going to have to wait and see how he comes through his HIA assessments.

"Apart from that, I think there are some bruised bodies but no one that would be necessarily in doubt."

On the Welsh draw, he said: "I felt we deserved it, we made five clean, line-breaks and we managed to contain them and deny them any line-breaks during the game, which was something we worked really hard on.

"At the same time, your line gets dented from time to time when (Toby) Faletau carries and Jamie Roberts carries, when those guys carry it's pretty to keep trying to defend that gain-line."

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