Sunday 19 November 2017

Schmidt refuses to park the bus

rugby

Joe Schmidt arrives at Murrayfield last Saturday on the bus that has been at the centre of much debate this week. Photo: Billy Strickland/INPHO
Joe Schmidt arrives at Murrayfield last Saturday on the bus that has been at the centre of much debate this week. Photo: Billy Strickland/INPHO
Cian Tracey

Cian Tracey

Five days after the event, Joe Schmidt again stressed his disappointment at the poor start Ireland made in their defeat in Murrayfield, which he believes was largely due to the 15-minute delay en route to the stadium.

As attentions turned to his side's crucial clash against Italy tomorrow, when asked if he has challenged his players to avoid another slow start, Schmidt, unprompted, referred to last week's incident that, according to Irish management, was caused by local police taking a different route to the stadium.

"It's incredibly disappointing the way we started, I don't think it was apathy, it was just anxiety at not having the full period to warm up," he said.

"Players get anxious. They get very routine-based but I do think it is a challenge for a professional player that they can become adaptable at different circumstances and can still cope.

The Kiwi later insisted that he "hadn't mentioned the bus at all" and although he didn't directly, he made it clear he was still annoyed.

Excuse

"It's not an excuse but it's something that's a good challenge for us. It's good to be challenged, even in our preparation, and be adaptable and cope with it.

"There was a question about solutions, one of the solutions for us is to be put in positions where we feel a bit of insecurity and a little bit of pressure and be able to cope. Unless you're put out of your routine, you don't know how you're going to cope."

"There are very, very few times in my three and a half years doing this job that we've started sluggishly like that."

Schmidt confirmed that he wouldn't be looking to speak with Italian police to avoid a similar situation occurring in Rome. "No, I think that was a one-off anomaly," he maintained.

"We are a lot more focused on what we can do performance-wise than some of those things that could be distractions. It's good that we have to cope with those distractions sometimes because you will have those and you have to be able to still perform."

Donnacha Ryan has been restored to the starting XV in place of Iain Henderson (hamstring), while Cian Healy starts ahead of Jack McGrath.

Schmidt also confirmed that Johnny Sexton (calf) and Peter O'Mahony (hamstring) will be fit to face France in Dublin in two weeks.

Irish Independent

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