Tuesday 25 October 2016

Ireland look for big performance at Twickenham

Winning isn't everything as Schmidt looks for performance at England Rubgy HQ

Joe Schmidt
Joe Schmidt
Jonathan Sexton

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt places "a premium on performance" in the last hit out against England tomorrow afternoon.

"I guess with the World Cup, you always want to get the result.

"These players are too competitive not to want to get the result," he said.

However, the job specification of Schmidt is to have a broader view.

"If we didn't get the result, but there were a few building blocks we've put in place and a few things we did maybe a little bit better than last week, we'd come away feeling there's work to be done.

"But we're keen to get working again and build our way through the World Cup."

It must be strange to use England as part of the process for playing against Canada.

"I think we've got to hit the ground running against Canada but we've got to build game-to-game."

Even Schmidt moved away from his almost religious dedication to short-term focus by contemplating the the power and unpredictability of France.

"I don't think anyone's kidding themselves," he remarked.

France have already shown the benefit of time spent together in their two matches against England.

"Obviously, the game at the end of the pool is going to be tougher, based on where they're (France) ranked and what they've done in preparation for this World Cup, and what they've done in previous World Cups."

Nonetheless, Schmidt expects a real spectacle tomorrow afternoon.

"I'm expecting them to open up and play with a fair bit of speed. I think when they do play with speed, that's exacerbated by the individuals they have and the speed and footwork they have."

He turned back to England's first match against France for proof positive of exactly what he was talking about.

"You only have to look at Anthony Watson, the try he scored from about 10 metres out (against France) where his ability to step and accelerate was incredible."

Schmidt harbours no illusions about what England offer, once again warning that a 'warm-up' is the last thing Ireland will get.

"I think it's very much a hot-bed from the start. I've no doubt that they're looking to rebound as we will be," he said.

Of course, Ireland will look to right the wrongs of what happened against Wales and England will be on their own mission to repair the damage done in Paris.

"We felt probably a little bit unlucky last week and lot of what we did put us in good field position to probably do a little bit better than what we did.

"We've just got to make sure that we finish a few things this week.

"But there's no tougher team to break down defensively than the English."

The most pertinent ploy would seem to be for Conor Murray and Jonathan Sexton to turn the English on their heels rather than running headlong into a wall of white shirts.

"They are very good defensively. They put a lot of pressure on you when you have the ball," added Schmidt.

"They slow the ruck well and once a ruck is slowed, they get so many numbers on their feet that they're kinda charging at you.

"You might have the ball, but they have the momentum," he chirped.

"It does make it a pretty tough day, so we're going to have to be really accurate around the break-down."

The business of building each individual up to peak fitness is a collective effort underpinned by conditioning king Jason Cowman.

It was a strong consideration in his selection, Luke Fitzgerald and Keith Earls left to recover from blows and Cian Healy still not activated.

"I think what we did try to do was gauge a little bit who's a bit more fatigued than others," stated Schmidt.

"It's been a big block of nine weeks of work and it's probably just trying to balance a little bit of game-time, a little bit of recovery.

"So that we get, hopefully, guys in their very best condition in two weeks time when the whole thing kicks off.

"Some players will go out and play really well fresh, and other players need a couple of games under their belt and you have to keep them ticking over.

"It's just about getting that balance right and hoping that in between times you get a few combinations together that helps build some cohesion."

Ireland will seek to return to their single-digit concession of penalties.

"You always want to win, but for us it was more important to see how we responded in that circumstance.

"The average number of penalties we give away is in the single figures. We didn't suddenly become an ill-disciplined team.

"I don't believe that that's a major concern for us, but it's something that we have to really conscious of, of making sure we act upon as best we can."

England: M Brown; A Watson, J Joseph, B Barritt, J May; G Ford, B Youngs; J Marler, T Youngs, D Cole, C Lawes, G Parling, T Wood, C Robshaw (capt), B Morgan.

Ireland: S Zebo; T Bowe, J Payne, R Henshaw, D Kearney; J Sexton, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best, M Ross, D Toner, P O'Connell (capt), P O'Mahony, S O'Brien, J Heaslip.

Verdict: England


england v ireland, live sky sports 1, tomorrow (ko 2.30)

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