Schmidt looks set to walk away after Japan; Stephen Kenny backs himself
Morning Sports Briefing: Keep ahead of the game with ‘The Irish Times’ sports team
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt during a training session at Carton House. Photograph: Billy Stickland/Inpho
Joe Schmidt has made 14 changes from the first Irish side to beat the All Blacks on home soil last weekend, for tomorrow’s final Autumn international against the USA. Only Garry Ringrose has been retained from last week’s starting XV, which had 680 caps compared with tomorrow’s 188. Gerry Thornley explains: “This will be the last opportunity to experiment in such fashion until the World Cup warm-up matches next August, and even then those games will be as much about fine-tuning the front-liners.” In his column this morning, Liam Toland writes that there is plenty at stake for Ireland’s supporting cast in USA clash: “can tomorrow’s Irish team replicate similarly against the USA where the greatest window into a team’s culture is when the second-string step in to mimic the stars.” Meanwhile Schmidt looks set to inform the IRFU, probably no later than next Monday, that he does not intend to extend his tenure beyond next year’s World Cup.
Dundalk manager Stephen Kenny has no doubts about his own ability to succeed Martin O’Neill as Republic of Ireland manager, telling reporters: “I am qualified to do it. I am absolutely qualified.” Mick McCarthy, however, remains well placed to return to the post over the coming days. The FAI has started what is described as “the process” of finding Martin O’Neill’s replacement, and there is talk of a six-strong shortlist. It is likely to be the early part of next week before any announcement would be made.