herald

Tuesday 12 November 2019

Schmidt and Gatland engage in one last power drive

Joe Schmidt. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
Joe Schmidt. Pic: Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

The comparison between Joe Schmidt and Warren Gatland is one of green apples and red apples.

One is happiest in a tracksuit; the other in a navy suit.

British and Irish Lions legend Adam Jones has certainly benefited from the man-management of his former boss.

Gatland was able to turn Wales from a first-round exit at the 2007 World Cup into a Grand Slam winners in six months.

The attitude of gratitude still exists.

Warren Gatland (PA)
Warren Gatland (PA)

"I think Gats is like a director of rugby in an international side," he said.

"If he is your head coach, he is still going to tell you and his coaches what he needs from you. He trusts the coaches.

"But if he doesn't think something is right, he will tell you about it. But he is not a tracksuit coach so to speak."

The Wales brains trust comes down to a collaborative effort, with Jones pointing out Neil Jenkins as someone, who has a bigger influence than may be expected to go beside those of Rob Howley, Robyn McBride and Shaun Edwards.

"He was very simple," said Jones, about Gatland's approach.

"When he came in, he was all about the boys being bigger, faster, stronger from the Wasps model he had.

"Sometimes you don't need to beat around the bush. You've got to be direct.

"What he does is he manages the boys very well. He realises quickly how each of the boys' tick.

Fit enough

"For me, it was all about playing for Wales, all about if I was fit enough.

"You needed to be at a certain weight and, all of a sudden, he would come up, give me a nudge in the side and say, 'ah, you're looking very fit.'

"He is a good man-manager, doesn't say a lot," added Jones.

"For me, he was a fantastic coach, he was great with me, changed my career.

"When he came in, I was plateauing. He gave me a kick up the a**e and, fortunately, I won a lot of things under him."

The manager Gatland contrasts sharply with the coach Schmidt, who is all over all of the details.

Of course, Ireland coach Schmidt is that tracksuit coach, an all-consuming presence on and off the field.

He has garnered respect, admiration on this small island and across the global rugby world and Jones is wary of this New Zealander.

"Ireland aren't going to come to Cardiff and out-Wales Wales," said Jones.

"Schmidt is an unbelievable coach. He's going to have tricks up his sleeve.

"That's my own worry, how Joe Schmidt prepares his team."

The Lions experience also makes Andy Farrell a person of interest to Jones for "how Faz gets them up to that emotional level to win this game.

"They are the two things that worry me."

It remains to be seen whether they will be well-founded or well-exploited by Wales.

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