Wednesday 22 November 2017

'I was more emotional than the players' - Joe Schmidt on the 'brutal reality' of cutting squad

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt with forwards coach Simon Easterby, left, and assistant coach Les Kiss
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt with forwards coach Simon Easterby, left, and assistant coach Les Kiss
1 September 2015; Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Joe Schmidt has revealed how he and his management staff cut their playing squad for the Rugby World Cup to 31 after six hours of deliberation.

A number of big names were edged out off the place for the tournament in what Schmidt described as the 'brutal reality of what we do'.

The Kiwi said that the process of calling the players who had not made the cut had affected him more than the players involved.

"It was probably me that more emotional than the player, they knew the decision when they saw my name on the phone," he said.

"They were resigned to the fact when they answered the call, it was then difficult to have that conversation with them but it's incredibly encouraging to me is how positive they were.. 'I wanna be involved in the future'."

One of the eye-catching aspects of the 31-man squad is that Ian Madigan will be the third-choice scrum-half during the competition.

"It was in the back of our minds, probably not in the forefront. I spoke to Ian about it last season so it's not suddenly something, he did some work on it in the off season," he added

"He has been quietly preparing himself for that potentially to happen.

"It probably wasn't what we were going to do but there were a few players we had discussions about potentially covering different positions because we knew we couldn't have total coverage with 31 players."

Isaac Boss and Kieran Marmion remain on injury-cover standby, with Ireland launching their Pool D campaign against Canada in Cardiff on September 19.

Another big call was the selection of Wexford's Tadhg Furlong ahead of Michael Bent after young tighthead made his debut against Wales on Saturday.

"He's been doing some pretty good work at loosehead in training. He's really impressed us," he continued.

"Apart from taking six specialist props... there's not too many ways around that. Michael Bent is probably very unlucky to miss out.

"He acquitted himself really well in the environment. His work ethic is first rate. He was very close.

"In this six hour process, his name was on the sheet a number of times.

"I thought he did really well at the weekend against a player who is very hard to scrum against.

"It was a fairly tough baptism to test rugby."

Schmidt decided to bring Ulster's Darren Cave as centre cover rather than bring another back to cover the back five.

"We feel like we have enough cover. It's a little bit of a manufactured midfield, I don't think Robbie (Henshaw) had played 12 until he came into this environment, Jared had played more full-back than 13," he said.

"I wanted to get one specialist centre who could play 12 or 13 and his positivity and flexibility are real pluses in the environment for us.

"We've had the opportunity to give Keith Earls and Luke Fitzgerald some game time at 13 and amongst those five and Ian Madigan, who can move in there.

"Having Ian cover 9 and 10, to expect him to cover 12 as well is a little more expectation.

Munster flyer Keith Earls suffered a heavy blow to the head in last weekend's 16-10 defeat to Wales in Dublin, and is now following the concussion protocols but will not feature against England.

Cian Healy is finally available but is likely to be rested.

"Cian's cleared to play, he's fit to play," said Schmidt.

"He's been in and out of sessions but not doing the whole session.

"He's acquitted himself well on his first two days, so we thought we'd have a look at how that goes on Thursday.

"And Keith's very good: he is following the return to play protocols.

"He hasn't trained with the team, he won't be involved at the weekend but I'd say he'd be cleared to play by the weekend following the protocols because there are no recurring problems."

31-man Ireland squad for the 2015 World Cup:

Forwards:

Rory Best

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25 February 2015; Ireland hooker Rory Best poses for a portrait after an Ireland press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Sean Cronin

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Sean Cronin attempts to force his way past Justin Tipuric and Dan Biggar of Wales

Tadhg Furlong

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27 May 2015; Ireland's Tadhg Furlong after a press conference. Thomond Park, Limerick. Picture credit: Diarmuid Greene / SPORTSFILE

Cian Healy

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12 February 2015; Ireland's Cian Healy after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Iain Henderson

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5 February 2015; Ireland's Iain Henderson following a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Paul O’Connell (capt)

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2 June 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell relaxes at the team hotel in Buenos Aires following a press conference ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014 test game against Argentina on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Emperador Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Jamie Heaslip

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12 March 2015; Ireland's Jamie Heaslip poses for a portrait after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Chris Henry

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13 August 2015; Ireland's Chris Henry poses for a portrait following a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Jack McGrath

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27 January 2015; Jack McGrath, Ireland, after a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: David Maher / SPORTSFILE

Jordi Murphy

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7 August 2015; Ireland's Jordi Murphy arrives for the captain's run. Ireland Rugby Squad Captain's Run, Millennium Stadium, Cardiff, Wales. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Sean O’Brien

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12 February 2015; Ireland's Sean O'Brien after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Peter O’Mahony

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3 February 2015; Ireland's Peter O'Mahony after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Mike Ross

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5 February 2015; Ireland's Mike Ross following a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Matt Browne / SPORTSFILE

Donnacha Ryan

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6 August 2015; Ireland's Donnacha Ryan poses for a portrait after a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Sam Barnes / SPORTSFILE

Richardt Strauss

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23 September 2013; Ireland's Richardt Strauss prepares to throw a ball into a lineout during squad training. Ireland Rugby Squad Training, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Devin Toner

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10 March 2015; Ireland Devin Toner poses for a portrait after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Nathan White

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13 January 2014; Connacht's Nathan White after a press conference ahead of their Heineken Cup 2013/14, Pool 3, Round 6, game against Saracens on Saturday. Connacht Rugby Press Conference, Sportsground, Galway. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

 

Backs:

Tommy Bowe

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2 February 2015; Ireland's Tommy Bowe following a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Ramsey Cardy / SPORTSFILE

Darren Cave

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5 June 2014; Ireland's Darren Cave following a press conference ahead of their opening Summer Tour 2014 test game against Argentina on Saturday. Irish Rugby Press Conference, Emperador Hotel, Buenos Aires, Argentina. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Keith Earls

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29 January 2015; Keith Earls, Irish Wolfhounds, following the team announcement to face the England Saxons. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Luke Fitzgerald

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19 March 2015; Ireland's Luke Fitzgerald poses for a portrait following a press conference at the team hotel, Carton House, in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Dave Kearney

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4 February 2014; Ireland's Dave Kearney during a press conference ahead of their RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against Wales on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Rob Kearney

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12 November 2013; Ireland's Rob Kearney during a press conference ahead of their Guinness Series International match against Australia on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Robbie Henshaw

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10 March 2015; Ireland Robbie Henshaw poses for a portrait after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Paddy Jackson

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25 August 2015; Ireland's Paddy Jackson poses for a portrait after a press conference. Ireland Rugby Press Conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Seb Daly / SPORTSFILE

Ian Madigan

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12 November 2013; Ireland's Ian Madigan during a press conference ahead of their Guinness Series International match against Australia on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Squad Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Conor Murray

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19 March 2015; Ireland's Conor Murray poses for a portrait following a press conference at the team hotel, Carton House, in Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Jared Payne

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17 March 2015; Ireland's Jared Payne poses for a portrait after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Eoin Reddan

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25 February 2015; Ireland scrum half Eoin Reddan poses for a portrait after an Ireland press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

Johnny Sexton

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10 March 2014; Ireland's Jonathan Sexton following a press conference ahead of their side's RBS Six Nations Rugby Championship match against France on Saturday. Ireland Rugby Press Conference, Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Pat Murphy / SPORTSFILE

Simon Zebo

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12 March 2015; Ireland's Simon Zebo poses for a portrait after a press conference. Carton House, Maynooth, Co. Kildare. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

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