Friday 15 December 2017

Keith Earls gives Ireland coach Joe Schmidt selection headache for World Cup

One-for-all and all-for-one ethos clicks for Irish team

Keith Earls’ try kills off the game against Wales.
Keith Earls’ try kills off the game against Wales.

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hit the nail on the head.

"We are always trying to find the balance. It would be dangerous to peak too soon," he said.

For sure, Ireland looked light years beyond Wales in the 35-21 dismissal at The Millennium Stadium where collective cohesion was the order of the afternoon.

The word out of Welsh valleys was that they had spent most of their time on conditioning ahead of ball work.

That is the way it played out as the home side came into the game towards the back-end of both halfs, probably through superior fitness.

By those times, Ireland were out of sight as they appeared far more in tune with what they were doing and in control of how they were doing it.

The hymn sheet hummed all week with how the dedication of all individuals to the collective well-being of the overall game plan would work in the favour of all involved.

The main eye-catcher through the three-quarters was Keith Earls.

He embraced the return from the international wilderness with the game breaking electricity that makes him different to the more powerful units that roam the midfield.

Of course, the skills are nothing without the graft to go with it and Andrew Trimble's 34-minute recall was accurate and aggressive enough to cause the spill for the try by Earls that killed the game as a contest by the time the half-hour rolled around.

"It was an unbelievable read by Trimby, hitting the second-last attacker," recalled Earls. "The ball just fell into my hands. I've been waiting two-and-a-half years for this chance and it was great to get back out there with the lads."

It was the perfect blend of Schmidt's ideal between defence and attack.

The actions of one benefited the other in one example of the one-for-all, all-for-one attitude of The Musketeers.

"I thought it was really impressive," said Schmidt.

"It's not just in the actual game itself. It was evident throughout the week. The preparation went well. The players gelled really well as a group. A lot of them had either not been in the environment before or were coming back into the environment.

"We glued it together with a few guys that spend a fair bit of time in the environment. The whole thing managed to stick together at least for 60 minutes anyway."

In this case, a good start will go down as one third of the battle towards sealing World Cup involvement because Schmidt will finalise his official party on August 31.

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