‘Reality check’ needed despite Ireland win, says Joe Schmidt

New Ireland coach not happy with sloppy and inaccurate opening stages against Samoa

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says there is plenty of improvement needed ahead of Australia’s visit. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says there is plenty of improvement needed ahead of Australia’s visit. Photograph: Brian Lawless/PA Wire.


Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was quick to dilute any overexcitement among players, fans or media after his side’s 31-point win over Samoa at the Aviva Stadium.

In his first game in charge, Schmidt watched his side struggle in the opening stages but gradually grow into the game and eventually run in five tries, with four of them coming in the second half for a 40-9 win.

Peter O’Mahony was first over the line after an impressive rolling maul from 25 metres out, while Seán O’Brien scored five minutes in the second period before Dave Kearney (2) and Fergus McFadden touched down.

It was an emphatic finish but the coach was more concerned afterwards by the sloppy opening stages.

“There was some good endeavour, but not the accuracy we were looking for,” said the New Zealander, whose side will host Australia next week. “I think the Samoans were missing a few players and we need a reality check, probably on Monday. We’ve got a real step up to take next week.

“I just think our ball security wasn’t great,” he added. “We turned over six balls in the first half, just from poor handling. We’ve got to be a lot better than that. You can’t offer full strength sides opportunities like that and with the Wallabies coming next week that’s a risk we can’t afford to take.”

Even Brian O’Driscoll wasn’t spared, as Schmidt outlined why the former captain’s assesment of his game should not be clouded by another moment of brilliance in the lead up to O’Brien’s try.

“Yeah, a great little pass between his legs,” said the coach before promptly adding: “A couple of defensive reads he’ll look at again and a couple of things early in the game when we maybe forced offloads when we didn’t have to.

“While we are looking to play with a tempo, we want to play with a tempo when we are accurate enough to make sure that we don’t offer any opportunities to the opposition.”

It wasn’t all bad, however, as the coach praised the performance of some of the new arrivals.

“It was nice to see some elements,” he said. “I thought the drive for the first try was top drawer. And a couple of other tries. The one from the scrum, where Dave Kearney managed to finish it in his first game for Ireland - I think that will be a special moment for him.”

Schmidt was also impressed with Leinster prop Jack McGrath who, on his debut, picked of the man-of-the-match award.

“Jack started really well,” the coach told RTÉ. “We asked a fair bit of him, putting him out for the first 20 (minutes) of the second half as well. He hasn’t had a huge amount of game time lately but we felt we had to get that running into his legs and he didn’t disappoint us.”