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Joe Schmidt hits back at Steve Hansen's "boring" jibe

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Joe Schmidt has defended Ireland's right to play to their strengths in the face of growing criticism of the way rugby is being played in the northern hemisphere.

In particular, the New Zealander referenced comments from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen that the game had become "boring", which he made after watching Ireland beat England.

Despite criticism over their style of play, Ireland stand on the brink of a historic 11th straight win and back-to-back Six Nations titles if they overcome Wales tomorrow, and Schmidt yesterday labelled the clash as "massive" as he recalled Jamie Heaslip to his side.

IRFU performance director David Nucifora will be part of a World Rugby committee tasked with improving the game after this year's World Cup, but Schmidt warned against changing the sport on the back of recent comments.

"Having southern hemisphere coaches come up and watch our last two games at the Aviva and feel they need to comment on a game, they're perfectly within their rights to do so, but at the same time different teams will play to their strengths," he said.

"That's one of the great things about the game, that you can play to different aspects, that the game embraces a whole lot of different shapes and sizes and skill-sets.

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Joe Schmidt has defended Ireland’s right to play to their strengths in the face of growing criticism of the way rugby is being played in the northern hemisphere. In particular, the New Zealander referenced comments from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, that the game had become 'boring'

Joe Schmidt has defended Ireland’s right to play to their strengths in the face of growing criticism of the way rugby is being played in the northern hemisphere. In particular, the New Zealander referenced comments from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, that the game had become 'boring'

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Joe Schmidt has defended Ireland’s right to play to their strengths in the face of growing criticism of the way rugby is being played in the northern hemisphere. In particular, the New Zealander referenced comments from All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, that the game had become 'boring'

"The game could end up as rugby league type game if you take some elements out of it that make it interesting, that are within the laws and therefore are really valid ways to approach the game."

Schmidt warned his players not to take their eye off the ball as they bid break the 12-year-old record of 10 wins in a row.

"It's a massive game," he said. "We have an opportunity to do what no Irish team has ever done in the history of the game - the danger is being distracted."

Irish Independent