Thursday 17 October 2019

'They'll be primed for us' - Schmidt relishing Cardiff showdown with Wales

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, with Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, with Wales head coach Warren Gatland. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Brendan Fanning

Brendan Fanning

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier seemingly was at Lansdowne Road this afternoon.

Had the French management known this surely they could have got him down at half time to negotiate with the home team who had owned the ball and the territory in that first half.

"They had 90 per cent of the ball," the cheerless coach Jacques Brunel observed afterwards. "They wouldn’t allow us initiate anything. We finished the game well but we had spent too much time defending."

Those late tries, which denied Ireland a record win over France – they had to settle for the straightforward bonus win – stuck in the craw of the Ireland coach.

"It was disappointing to concede those late tries because I felt our replacements came on and did well. Jack Carty had kicked a peach of a ball to the right hand corner and we were putting pressure on. We had a few consecutive five metre scrums – three of which we got penalties off – and then the ball squirted out of the tunnel and they got away and it was really disappointing to be broken in the middle of the park where we had defended so well earlier in the game. Knowing how well Huget runs those trail lines, he finished the try well. So that was frustrating. At the same time getting the four tries, getting the bonus point was the target. There was a bit of rhythm back today."

Ireland however did well on the injury front, with Josh van der Flier the only casualty on the day, twisting his leg, having been unceremoniously dumped out of a ruck. Schmidt was upbeat about Rob Kearney’s chances, though not regarding Robbie Henshaw who had not been considered for today.

"Rob’s calf tightened yesterday but I think he’ll have a good chance (for Cardiff). I’d be surprised if Rob wasn’t training on Tuesday or Wednesday of whenever we train next. Robbie has less of a chance. He recovering but it’s still swollen. It’s a dead leg and sometimes it’s almost impossible to get rid of it fast."

The silver lining on the cloud of losing Kearney was extra game time for Jordan Larmour.

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"His first involvement was special wasn’t it?," Schmidt said.

"Finding that space into the corner and forcing Damian Penaud to put the ball out after that kick receipt. I thought that was super and I’m sure it gave him a spring in his step that his first involvement was a positive one. Off the back of that there was a number of other positive involvements. He was probably a little bit lucky that Damian Penaud knocked the ball on from a cross kick and that’s one of the things as a full back he’s still learning to get into the right position at the right time.

"When he scythed through the middle of their midfield defence he’s freakishly good on his feet. I thought he was going to work his way back up the pitch as one point to make sure he beat everyone. I thought he linked well with the back three – a really good performance from Jordan.” 

Overall the Ireland camp were pretty happy that they achieved their goals, and managed to get a few key players off early to rest ahead of the six-day turnaround for Wales.

"Look, it’ll give us confidence but we know what a challenge next week’s going to be anyway," Schmidt said. "We said all along that this is a little bit similar to what we’ll have to contend with at the end of the year with a six day turnaround from a team in blue to a team in red. It’s not something we want to miss a beat with now. We want to keep building over the next six days if we can and I’m sure the Welsh boys were sitting back recovered and had their feet up watching and they’ll be primed. Very much primed for us."

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