SAMOA WILL BE the feisty yet un-glamorous opposition for Joe Schmidt’s first game as Ireland head coach.
Try as he might to stress his one-game-at-a-time focus, the Kiwi will have marked to more dates on his calendar on November 16 [Australia] and 24 [New Zealand].
“I think Samoa are going to be tough enough without those two,” he said. Schmidt watched the All Blacks decimate Australia in their first game of the Rugby Championship, at the weekend. One familiar face stood out.
He said, “I thought Richie McCaw was in pretty sublime form for a man who has played only three or four games so far this season. Across the board, we know they are going to be tough.” The Kiwi added:
Ewen McKenzie has just taken over with the Wallabies so there will be a settling in period there. Hopefully that settling in period lasts for the next two or three years.”
With Samoa, he acknowledged, taking scalps of Northern Hemisphere sides last year, the opening salvo of Test rugby will be tough. Schmidt said, “I really am looking forward to it but there’s a bit of trepidation there as well because there’s some expectations. I’d encourage that because I’ve the same expectations.”
The former Leinster coach has now made multiple trips to the provinces he now governs and spoke to Irish Rugby TV about getting hands-on in coaching sessions, at Connacht, with assistant coach Les Kiss. It was great to see the Connacht players, he said, show their determination to impress the new international coaching ticket.
Schmidt confessed that he is struggling to adapt from the new role of national overseer, as opposed to being ‘up to my knees’ in pre-season training. “I feel on the periphery of things at the moment rather than right in the middle of work.”
You can see the full interview with Schmidt here.