Monday 20 November 2017

Winning the bottom line as Schmidt looks to avoid 'shocker'

Joe Schmidt (SPORTSFILE)
Joe Schmidt (SPORTSFILE)
Ruaidhri O'Connor

Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has admitted that he is feeling the pressure to deliver a first win of 2016 against Italy tomorrow and said his players must begin making their own luck in order to turn their fortunes around.

The Ireland coach yesterday launched a defence of his selection policy after restoring Jared Payne to the centre at the expense of Stuart McCloskey, who falls out of the match-day 23 as Fergus McFadden is included.

After drawing against Wales and losing to France and England in the wake of the desperately disappointing World Cup quarter-final performance against Argentina, Schmidt is facing more criticism than at any point in his time in charge.

He denied that he has been conservative and believes that by introducing CJ Stander, Josh van der Flier, McCloskey and Ultan Dillane to the Test arena he has done more than enough "experimenting" in this Six Nations.

Tomorrow is all about victory.

"We have to get a win. That's the bottom line," he said. "We're judged on our results and we judge ourselves on performance but if our performance is good enough then you've got to be able to get the result at the end of it.

"There are elements of our three performances thus far that were good enough to get a result, but you've got to deliver them consistently.

"We've got to ensure that we control as many of those aspects as possible to try to make sure we can get over the line.

"We probably haven't had a few things go our way, but that's sport.

"You've got to be good enough to make sure that enough of what you control goes your way, so when those bounces don't go your way or the decisions don't go your way, you've safeguarded yourself against what would be a shocker for us not to get something on the board this weekend."

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