'Delighted' Schmidt hails record-breaking 'champion bloke' Earls

The Ireland head coach expressed his satisfaction after his side concluded their summer tour with another win.

Source: Irish Rugby TV/YouTube

JOE SCHMIDT DECLARED himself “delighted” today after his team brought their summer tour to an end by making it three wins out of three.

Tries from Garry Ringrose, Josh van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Rhys Ruddock and Sean Reidy helped Ireland to a 35-13 victory over Japan in Tokyo, in what was Leinster lock Devin Toner’s 50th cap.

It was a second win in eight days against the Brave Blossoms for Schmidt’s side, who started their summer tour by comprehensively overcoming the USA in New Jersey a fortnight ago.

The tour afforded the Ireland head coach an opportunity to blood several new players, but Schmidt was also full of praise for some of his more familiar faces and the manner in which they assumed leadership roles.

He told Irish Rugby TV: “I’m delighted with the way it’s gone because we’ve got to know this young group of players. The coaches have had the opportunity to work with them.

John Cooney Debutant John Cooney makes a break for Ireland. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“They’ve also taken responsibility for working hard themselves. People have emerged, there’s leaders. Garry Ringrose normally gets to sit behind some very experienced players; he had to step up and lead by example and I thought he did today. He was well assisted by Luke Marshall in the midfield.

“Keith Earls has led off the pitch but you’ve seen how good he’s been on the pitch. Rhys Ruddock as captain has really been an impressive leader. There’s a whole mix of guys — Jack Conan, particularly last week when he got into the open spaces, just how dynamic and powerful he is.

“And I was delighted for Dev to get his 50th game today. It seems like the other day he was playing his first game. I think Dev and I probably both aged during that period but he’s been great for us as well in a leadership role.

“Kieran Marmion, so often sitting behind Conor Murray, and being led by Johnny Sexton or whoever’s at 10, he really stepped up and led as well, particularly defensively. He covered enormous amounts of ground.

Rugby Analysis

Get Murray Kinsella's exclusive analysis on the URC interpros and Champions Cup clashes this December

Become a Member

“For us, there’s lots of positives. There are some guys who have got a fair bit of work to do at the same time. It gives us a bit of a benchmark and a platform upon which we can hopefully start building.”

Niall Scannell. Rory Scannell, John Ryan, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and Dave Kilcoyne Keith Earls (second from right) pictured with Munster team-mates Niall Scannell, Rory Scannell, John Ryan, Andrew Conway and Dave Kilcoyne after Ireland's win against Japan this morning. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Schmidt was full of praise for Earls. Although he wasn’t among the tries today, the Munster man registered back-to-back braces against USA and Japan last week to take his international tally to the season for nine — breaking Denis Hickie’s record of eight from 2002-03.

“He’s a champion bloke as well as a fantastic player. I think his ability to change direction, his speed, but also his intellect in the game, his skill in the game, his passing game is second to none, and people wouldn’t even realise that,” Schmidt said.

“He’s multi-faceted but what people see most often is how quick he was and his ability to break the line. He did that in super style in America and here in Japan.”

Source: The42 Rugby Show/SoundCloud

Three out of three! Ireland put Japan to the sword and end summer tour on a high

50-cap Toner a tower of strength and more talking points as Ireland win battle with Blossoms

About the author:

Paul Dollery

Read next: