The Offload: Joe Schmidt gripes are misplaced
The Offload offers the squad that should travel to Tokyo if World Cup was next week
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has called out the media for not helping Ireland’s cause. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
“Team Of Us” is a sponsor’s slogan
Joe Schmidt’s polished demeanour was dampened in the principality.
Privately, current and former players describe the 53 year old coach as a brilliant control freak.
Highlighting the “bug” that infected his Ireland squad was understandable following this humiliating 25-7 loss to Wales. However, Schmidt refused to accept responsibility for the roof fiasco and, ridiculously, he blamed the Irish written media for giving Warren Gatland an advantage.
Schmidt needs to realise that “Team Of Us” is a sponsor’s slogan. He can’t have it both ways.
Last Tuesday assistant coach Greg Feek played down the chances of Tadhg Beirne or Seán O’Brien featuring in Cardiff. No mention of Iain Henderson’s injury. Many left Carton House believing Dan Leavy would start but on Wednesday the42.ie published the actual team:
O’Brien and Beirne were in. “Gats knows our team before time, it didn’t help with the preparations, that’s always a frustration for us,” Schmidt complained.
The Irish Daily Star saw a larger conspiracy: “Where is that coming from, have you a leak in the squad, or is [Gatland] phoning somebody?”
“No he didn’t phone anyone,” Schmidt had to clarify. “It was public. You could see it. It is those fine margins. You kind of want to keep a bit up your sleeve as long as you can but at the same time that is not the reason we lost.”
Yet he prioritised the issue post match. Such behaviour is nothing new. On the eve of the 2015 World Cup opener against Canada, The Irish Times revealed an injury to Robbie Henshaw, prompting a sulky, monosyllabic response from Schmidt at the following day’s press conference.
When Ireland struggle expert communication becomes vital but this remains a serious failing in camp Schmidt.
By the numbers - 36: Kieran Marmion became the 36th player used by Ireland during the Six Nations.
No easy World Cup fix
What’s certain is 31 players won’t be anywhere near enough in Japan.
With the Six Nations burnt to a crisp, The Offload offers the squad that should travel to Tokyo if the World Cup was starting next week.
From the team that beat the All Blacks last year Devin Toner had the strongest tournament. Toner played 56 minutes against England before requiring ankle surgery. If everyone else is in the red, Seán Cronin and Seán O’Brien are facing bankruptcy.
There is no obvious personnel fix. Caelan Doris, despite impressing for Leinster, and Scott Penny, despite a stunning Six Nations for the Grand Slam under-20s, are highly unlikely to travel but something has to change. Jack McGrath must be brought back into the fold. It’s also worth noting the injury profiles of Dan Leavy, Robbie Henshaw, Johnny Sexton, Garry Ringrose, Iain Henderson and Joey Carbery makes it almost impossible to field the best XV come the quarter-final.
POSSIBLE WORLD CUP SQUAD - Fullback/wing: R Kearney, J Larmour, J Stockdale, K Earls, A Conway. Centre: B Aki, G Ringrose, R Henshaw. Outhalf: J Sexton, J Carbery. Scrumhalf: C Murray, L McGrath, J Cooney. Props: C Healy, J McGrath, T Furlong, A Porter, M Moore. Hooker: S Cronin, N Scannell, R Best. Locks: J Ryan (capt), D Toner, T Beirne, I Henderson. Backrow: CJ Stander, P O’Mahony, J van der Flier, D Leavy, S Penny, C Doris.
Quote of the week: “Hey bro @ian_madigan any craic? [cry laughing emoji]” – Simon Zebo’s quickly deleted tweet on Saturday confirms what many already knew: no World Cup reprieve for the Racing 92 man.
Home truths for Lindsay Peat
Maybe the 20x20 slogan needs changing for women’s rugby: if they can’t even see each other then nobody can become them. Before Sunday’s 24-5 defeat at the Arms Park, a result that sees Ireland finish the Six Nations in fifth place with one victory and a points differential of minus 78, Lindsay Peat warned the situation had reached crisis point.
The former Dublin footballer and current starting Irish prop broke ranks last week to reveal the squad only meet up for one, at best two days, of preparation before facing nations firmly on their way to embracing professional structures.
Ireland are definitely not going down that road any time soon. “If I hear development one more time!” tweeted former coach Philip Doyle. “Fundamental problems here. Someone please stand up.”
The current situation is also a disservice to current coach Adam Griggs as the New Zealander simply does not have enough time to build an effective set piece or improve obvious skill-set problems. This was the secret to the coaching double act of Doyle and Greg McWilliams, which proved so effective when helping Fiona Coghlan’s team win the 2013 Grand Slam.
Peat bemoaned the absence of a summer series, be it home or abroad, after the IRFU rejected such an offer from Australia last year.