Sunday 18 February 2018

'It couldn't be a more flawed theory' - Joe Schmidt says picking O'Mahony was not a ploy

Ireland's Peter O'Mahony wins a lineout. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland's Peter O'Mahony wins a lineout. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Joe Schmidt has brushed off suggestions that Peter O'Mahony starting the game ahead of Jamie Heaslip was a deliberate ploy to disrupt England's preparations.

The ultra-durable Heaslip pulled up with a "tight hamstring" during the latter stage of the warm-up with CJ Stander shifting to number eight and O'Mahony starting in his place.

O'Mahony put in a stellar man-of-the-match performance but Schmidt insisted that it was not a preplanned selection.

"It couldn't be a more flawed theory," Schmidt said.

"I think it''s probably a bit of a slight on us to be honest, because it's not something we do. We pick our team and we go out there and prepare them as best we can and they go out and play.

"It was a disruption, if anything for us. Dan Leavy got a heck of a shock when I said 'Dan, you need to grab that jersey off Pete. Pete you grab that off CJ. CJ, you grab that off Jamie because Jamie has just pulled his upper hamstring and is unable to play.

"I don't know if you saw Jamie doing the warm-up but it was very late when he suddenly stepped aside and the doc had a look at him and then tested him inside I'd say five minutes before kick off."

A delighted Schmidt admitted that he was proud of his players after they denied England a Grand Slam and in the process stopped them from setting a new world record for consecutive wins.

"It was just great they they went out and played with confidence. I think we've been doing that but last week (against Wales), we had some real frustrations.

"We got very close to the line, penalties were conceded and then we had to try build again but we didn't quite the results from our driven maul that we would have liked.

"The biggest frustration in the Championship is that first 30 minutes that we played in (against Scotland)."

Johnny Sexton usurpingly came in for some rough treatment with several late hits on the Ireland out-half.

Rory Best repeatedly tried to point it out to referee Jerome Garces, only for the France official to brush off his appeals and point to the job that the TMO was doing.

Afterwards Best was asked about the lines of communication with Garces and he said:

"It was (a frustration). He kept saying that the TMO was keeping an eye on it. I suppose he was saying that his job and his assistants and the TMO is to look after the players.

"I was simply saying to him that my job as captain was to make sure that our players are looked after. I knew if I didn't try to put a bit of pressure on to try and look after them that I would get getting it from Joe.

"Look, key players in key positions... we knew it was a really tough test match and in really tough test matches you try and be as close to the line as you can be. I don't think it was anything other than them trying to put pressure on Johnny. We have to look after our key players."

Schmidt also seemed to be annoyed by some of the hits on Sexton and added:

"We'll be reflective. We'll have a look through the game and we'll reference a few things. I think there probably are a few things.

"I think those things (high tackles) came into vogue and maybe they have just slipped out of vogue a little bit. Watching a bit of Super Rugby this morning and I thought there were a few high shots as well.

"I know it's a initiative that is being driven quite hard and we hope that it continues to be driven hard. At the same time, it's a test match with a heck of a lot of intensity."

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