Wednesday 17 January 2018

Schmidt talks positive ahead of battle

O'Halloran gets chance as Joe makes seven changes

Tiernan O’Halloran will make his Ireland debut against South Africa. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Tiernan O’Halloran will make his Ireland debut against South Africa. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
CJ Stander returns from suspension to face his native country. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Joe Schimdt is convinced Ireland can make more history in South Africa.

"I'm utterly confident that they'll make me and themselves proud," said Schmidt.

The fact Ireland will engage in a remarkable 17th test match this season does bring about questions over whether this test is a bridge too far.

"People are tired and that's going to maybe detract from people being at the their optimum," issued the coach.

"But, I don't think too many people will detect that because what they don't have in fresh reserves of energy, they'll make up for in the full commitment they make."

A supreme strategist, Schmidt has not often been accused of holding court as an inspirational motivator.

"To be honest I wouldn't be a big pre-match speaker," he said.


"I don't try to motivate players hugely. I think players motivate themselves.

"They're incredibly proud of the jersey they wear, the country they represent and the collective they are, so they're going to get out and work for each other anyway."

That will to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and dig deep for one another is a basic tenent of international rugby.

"It's not really something that can be externally infused.

"We just have an expectation because they have an expectation of each other."

Ireland have suffered the hammer blow of losing their best back Jared Payne for the final test.

What was originally put out as "cramp" in the aftermath of his withdrawal minutes from the end of the second test has been revealed as an calf injury.

Where one important man falls, another rises in his place.

Clifden's Tiernan O'Halloran will make his first start for Ireland, on his second cap, in what is a daunting prospect, to say the least.

It is understandable that coach Schmidt should downplay the injury to Payne in order to prevent the Springboks from delving too deeply into the finer details of O'Halloran's game.

In fairness, the Connacht man arrived in South Africa as the in-form full-back.

Obviously, Schmidt was not totally convinced by what happened at the PRO12 level.

Thus, Payne was dropped back from centre to fifteen on the grounds of trust and experience.

However, the coach did see fit to include O'Halloran on the bench last week, as he has Matt Healy this week, and has handed O'Halloran the ultimate honour in Port Elizabeth.

Tight-head Mike Ross, flankers CJ Stander and Jordi Murphy, wing Keith Earls and centre Luke Marshall have all returned to the first team. There is a heavy emphasis on impact from the bench where Seán Cronin, Tadhg Furlong, Finlay Bealham, Ultan Dillane, Rhys Ruddock and Matt Healy all carry serious athleticism.


The devastation of losing out to the Springboks in the second test has been replaced by the good news sporting stories coming from France and Manchester.

Left wing Earls has been lifted by the notable success of Ireland, the Republic and Northern versions, in the European Championships and the achievement of the U20s in making the Rugby World Cup final later tomorrow evening.

"We're getting videos from family and friends and people, who were in Paris and just the Irish people in general," he stated.

"The under-20s, they're flying with a massive win against New Zealand and now they're going onto the final against England.

"For a small country, we're a really proud country and you know it doesn't matter what we're playing, everybody gets behind us."

South Africa coach Allister Coetzee rewards the impact of Warren Whiteley and Ruan Combrinck from the bench in the second test to hand both test starts in his two changes.

There should be two new caps in prop Stephen Kitshoff and Super Rugby back row sensation Jaco Kriel.

"There will be something new from the Irish," claimed Coetzee.

"I also think they will have to have a go more than in the previous two tests and keep ball in hand.

"It's going to be true test in itself."

South Africa: W le Roux; R Combrinck, L Mapoe, D de Allende, JP Pietersen; E Jantjes, F de Klerk; T Mtawarira, A Strauss (capt), F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, PS du Toit, F Louw, S Kolisi, W Whiteley.

Ireland: T O'Halloran; A Trimble, L Marshall, S Olding, K Earls; P Jackson, C Murray; J McGrath, R Best (capt), M Ross, I Henderson, D Toner, CJ Stander, J Murphy, J Heaslip.


South Africa v Ireland (Tomorrow 4.0, live Sky Sports 1)

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