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Wednesday 14 November 2018

Joe runs 'survival of fittest' regime

MAIN VOICE: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt at squad training yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile
MAIN VOICE: Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt at squad training yesterday. Photo: Sportsfile

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt rules with an iron fist because he has to.

The regime out in idyllic Carton House is intense enough that even the idea of looking any further than Argentina would be detrimental to the lure of what lies ahead tomorrow week.

It has been hot-wired into the minds of the Irish players that the minute-to-minute, meeting-to-meeting mindset is the way of the machine-like efficiency that governs their time together.

Afterall, it would be only human to take a peek around the corner at the All Blacks.

"Yeah, maybe, they're conditioned to a degree that they're not that human," said Schmidt.

"Because one of the dangers that they understand fully is any look that far ahead may compromise what they deliver this weekend.

"Then, next week, they're really looking forward to the game, but watching it from the stands.

"That's not where they're want to be," he stated.

"They want to have their boots on and they want to be right in amongst it.

"They know their best opportunity to do that, on the back of some really good performances last week, is to make sure their performances are very similar."

The competitive environment fostered did not happen by accident or overnight.

The depth developed is there to keep everyone on their toes, driving the machine harder and further.

No one is comfortable, everyone is looking at who is chasing them or

"The more they are looking over their shoulder, in a glance, and then getting their eyes front-focused.

"I think anyone runs a little bit harder when they can hear the breathing of someone behind them.

"I don't want them looking around. I just want them running a bit harder, so that they can keep that distance."

It all feeds into the survival of the fittest mentality that comes along at the peak of professional sport to make all the difference at the end of 80 minutes.

"It gives you those really good headaches that you want to have in selection," he said.

After all is said and done, Schmidt has retained just Bundee Aki and Jordan Larmour, probably because Garry Ringrose and Rob Kearney are out injured and wing Jacob Stockdale.

The groundwork was done in Chicago.

It is up to those allowed to rest up last week to show why they should be retained for New Zealand next week.

They dare not look too far ahead or it could be the end of their November.

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