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3-0 would do: Schmidt ready to accept boring badge if it comes with a Slam

‘I don’t think we would be uninspired by a 3-0 victory, because we know what’s at stake.’

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“IT’S PROBABLY AT the stage of being boring, which we don’t want to be described as…”

Despite the all-powerful bubble that shields Carton House from the ‘noise’ in the media, Joe Schmidt brought up the ‘B-word’ himself today while downplaying the significance of Eddie Jones’ ‘scummy Irish‘ remarks.

Even though Ireland have scored 17 tries through their four games, winning all three home matches with a bonus point, the almost-but-not-quite-yet feel surrounding last week’s win over Scotland made for an oddly uncelabratory mood around the Aviva Stadium.

TV3 pundit Matt Williams put that mood into words in his post-match analysis:

“I find it a bit boring, it’s not a joy to behold,” said the Australian, “but they’re successful, they’ve broken the mould for Irish teams. They’re winning, even when not underdogs, they’re churning through it, but it’s not fun.”

The notion of Ireland playing controlling rather than entertaining rugby was put to Schmidt today after he named a team with just a single tactical change for Saturday’s long-awaited Test.

“I don’t think any of the team would care if it was 3-0,” said the Kiwi, chasing a 12th consecutive Test win stemming from last year’s win over England in Dublin.

I don’t think we would be uninspired by a 3-0 victory, because we know what’s at stake.

“And what’s at stake is a fantastic opportunity, not just to achieve a Grand Slam, but to go a year unbeaten. We wouldn’t have dreamed of that this time last year.

“This time last year we were scrambling around, we thought Conor (Murray) was going to play on the Thursday, and Kieran Marmion came in and did superbly. And Jared Payne played his only game of the Six Nations.

“That character reference that we have from that group has helped us build from there on. And hopefully we can continue to build on that.

“That would be special for us in all sorts of ways, because of the Championship and what is at stake.”

While Schmidt has once again been able to keep a settled side in place, Eddie Jones made a raft of changes on the back of two consective defeats. Aside from the threat of a Saracens half-back pairing, Schmidt singled out Kyle Sinckler’s promotion off the bench as the the element which could alter England’s approach.

The 24-year-old Harlequin is a supremely mobile, ball-playing tighthead that gives England more attacking options than the elder stateman Dan Cole.

“Kyle Sinckler coming in is a bit of a change up; he’s dynamic. That’s a bit of change to the solidity to the strength and experience that Dan Cole brings,” said Schmidt.

Bundee Aki, Jordan Larmour, Joey Carbery and Jordi Murphy after the game Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

“The squad is very similar. He’s flipped a few guys from the bench and vice versa. It changes things a little bit. At the hub of the game they have got a Saracens combination: Richard Wigglesworth and Owen Farrell are very used to playing with each other and so that smoothes the path for Owen Farrell having to adjust from 12 to 10 because the responsibilities are quite a bit different.”

Schmidt added: ”there is a sense of anticipation, a sense of nervousness. The magnitude of what it will take to get us over the line is very much uppermost in the thinking.

“At the same time, there has been a good opportunity to relax a little bit and recover from what was a pretty intense game against Scotland.

“It’s a similar rhythm to our week. We probably don’t want to break that rhythm up too much because it has served us so well this far.”

Changing locks, Schmidt’s bench power and more Ireland team talking points

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Sean Farrell

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