Monday 16 September 2019

'Joe loves Felix. He spent a lot of time with him. Felix will know a lot about how Joe thinks'

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, speaks with Felix Jones during his playing days. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, left, speaks with Felix Jones during his playing days. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Ireland could very well face the Springboks in the World Cup quarter-final and a man who has spent time in the Irish set-up could be a key person for the South African team.

Felix Jones was hired by Rassie Erasmus as a consultant for the upcoming tournament, reprising a partnership they had when the latter was the Munster Director of Rugby and the former Ireland international was his attack coach.

Erasmus tried to bring Jones with him to South Africa when he took the job in January 2018, but Jones opted to stay in Munster, before turning down the offer of a new contract last summer.

Interestingly, Jones spent time in the Ireland set-up during the 2017 summer tour, and is known to have worked closely with Joe Schmidt since moving into the coaching world.

This would give the Springboks a big insight into the Irish set-up ahead of any possible World Cup meeting and speaking on The Left Wing, Independent.ie's rugby podcast in association with Aldi, Luke Fitzgerald thinks it is a real coup for Erasmus.

"Joe loves Felix, he absolutely loves Felix," Fitzgerald says.

"He is exactly what Joe loves. Joe brought Felix in very early. Everything that someone like Felix stands for, Joe loves. He is a details guy who works so hard.

"Someone like that, Joe spent a lot of time with. I can see them being similar personalities. Felix will know a lot about how Joe thinks and how he wants to attack."

Irish Independent rugby correspondent Ruaidhri O'Connor added that Erasmus and Springboks defence coach Jacques Nienaber got a look behind the curtain with Schmidt during their time with Munster.

"I think the Boks would be way more dangerous in Joe's mind than New Zealand," O'Connor added.

"Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber have been at Ireland training. They spent 18 months in the Irish system, there is a lot of information sharing that goes on. They know Conor Murray. They know the entire Munster team. They signed Jean Kleyn. Felix Jones knows that calls."

For Schmidt's part, he has already voiced his concern at Jones' move to the Springboks set-up. Speaking before Ireland's departure for Japan, he said it was an 'awkward' situation as Jones knows intimate details about how the team prepares.

"It's an awkward situation with Felix, I'd a long chat with him yesterday. It's a fantastic opportunity for him to go to a World Cup with a team that are on a massive upward swing," he said.

"It's awkward because... you don't have to be a rocket scientist; he came to Japan with us the last time, so he was right in amongst us. So you don't have to ask really, do you?

"He was with us, he's seen everything that we deliver and would have a great knowledge of even the language we use in our camp, so it's awkward for us."

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