Cronin: Schmidt’s ‘motivational fear’ marks him out as best in the world
‘When you do make a mistake during a game you’re already thinking about the review’
Seán Cronin scores Ireland’s fourth try during the Six Nations match against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium. Photograph: Donall Farmer/PA Wire
Joe Schmidt’s unrivalled “motivational fear” marks him out as the best coach in world rugby, according to Ireland hooker Seán Cronin.
Head coach Schmidt has already spearheaded three Six Nations titles in five years, and can now lead Ireland to just their third-ever Grand Slam this weekend.
Victory over England at Twickenham on Saturday would set the class of 2018 alongside the Grand Slam winners of 1948 and 2009, and cement Kiwi boss Schmidt’s status as Ireland’s greatest-ever coach.
Cronin insists Schmidt’s greatness extends far beyond Irish shores, however, rating his former Leinster boss as the globe’s current top coach.
And the Leinster hooker believes it is Schmidt’s famed no-holds barred analysis sessions that set him apart from the chasing pack.
“He’s the best coach in the world, his results speak for themselves; three championships in five years is incredible,” said Cronin, of boss Schmidt.
“He’s top quality, and he has a great support staff behind him too.
“I’ve been involved with Joe for a long time, both at Leinster and Ireland, and when you do make a mistake during a game you’re already thinking about the review on Monday.
“Not many coaches can put that motivational fear into you.”
Super-sub Cronin has won 51 of his 60 caps off the bench for Ireland – a record number of replacement appearances that underscores his ability to hold his nerve at the death.
The 31-year-old bagged the bonus-point try in Ireland’s 28-8 victory over Scotland on Saturday that later sealed the Six Nations title with a week to spare.
Under wily Australian boss Eddie Jones, England have taken to dubbing their replacements “finishers”. Cronin may not want to adopt that term for himself, but he offered a telling insight into how to thrive when joining a Test-match denouement.
“Chances to pull off a Grand Slam are few and far between,” said Cronin. “I’ve never been involved in a Grand Slam decider before.
“Guys are well aware these opportunities don’t come around very often. We can’t let an opportunity like this slip by.
“It’s lingering there in the background, what’s on offer. But on the flip-side we’re preparing the same as we have been. That’s been going pretty well for us so we’re not going to stray far from what’s been working.
“Collectively last week the bench had probably its biggest impact on the game so far in the tournament for us.
“It could only be 10 minutes that you have when you come on, but they’re usually the pressure minutes of the game.
“You’ve got to be ready. And if you’re used to being a starter, that’s something you need to get your head around pretty quickly. You’ve got to zone out everything that’s going on around you.
“I’ve plenty of experience of being on the bench, so it’s about finding ways to put that mental pressure aside. It’s hard but it’s something you gain with experience.”