Saturday 23 February 2019

Fired-up Schmidt tells Ireland to seize day

Ireland coach urges unchanged side to roll up sleeves and bring home Triple Crown

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

JOE SCHMIDT has urged his players to seize the day at Twickenham tomorrow after naming an unchanged line-up to face England.

The former Leinster coach, who won an incredible four trophies in three seasons with the province, stands on the brink of claiming the Triple Crown if they can overcome Stuart Lancaster's charges and he admitted yesterday: "We would love to get a bit of silverware".

After claiming the Crown four times in six seasons during the 2000s, Ireland have gone four years without beating England, Scotland and Wales in a single season and 15 of the 23 players named in the match-day squad for the third Six Nations clash of the season have never won a trophy in an Irish jersey.

Beating England on their own patch – where they have lost just one Championship game since Tommy Bowe's famous late try in 2010 – will be no mean task, but it would represent a real sign of the progress that Schmidt has made since he replaced Declan Kidney last summer and set up a Grand Slam attempt with Italy at home and France away to come.

The New Zealander acknowledged that opportunity knocks for his team.

"We have a really player-driven environment and a lot of people have done a massive job in preparing the people in the environment," he said.

"We play for silverware. We have some key performance indicators that give us feedback on how accurate we've been, but, in the end, we're results driven because we have to be, the public are results driven and we would love to get a bit of silverware, there is no doubt about that at all.

"The team would deserve that if they rolled their sleeves up and got a result at Twickenham, I don't think you could argue with it."

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland's Sean Cronin carries Isaac Boss during a warm-up drill during training
Ireland's Jamie Heaslip during training
Ireland's Chris Henry, left, and Iain Henderson during training
Ireland v England

Schmidt confirmed the same starting XV that beat Wales would start in London, but he made one surprise change to his bench where the uncapped Jordi Murphy comes in for Tommy O'Donnell. Iain Henderson replaces the injured Dan Tuohy.

Brian O'Driscoll has overcome the bug that the Irish management say kept him out of training on Tuesday to take his place for an appearance that will see him draw level with Australia great George Gregan as rugby's most capped player (139) of all time.

"I think everyone knows how good Brian is, even at this stage in his career he's so, so important for us," winger Andrew Trimble said yesterday, adding that the legendary centre had caused a scare on Tuesday.

"Everybody took a gasp early on in the week when he took a little knock and we were going, 'what's going on, let's get Brian on the pitch'. So that's how big an influence he is when he's on the pitch and that's how important he is for us."

Irish Independent

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