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Dublin: 11°C Thursday 6 May 2021

'It was probably me that was more emotional than the players' - Schmidt

Schmidt feels for those left behind, but has Ireland focused on the challenges ahead.

WHILE SUNDAY NIGHT was a difficult one for Joe Schmidt as he made phone calls to the men who missed out on Ireland’s 31-man World Cup squad, there was huge encouragement for the head coach too.

Joe Schmidt Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A strong reaction to disappointment is straight out of the Joe Schmidt textbook of self-improvement and the Kiwi found the vast majority of players instantly reacted to the bad news with that response in mind.

“I’d like to think that the relationships with players are reasonably positive and I think it was probably me that was more emotional than the players,” said Schmidt of those calls.

They knew what the decision was when they saw my name on their phone and they were resigned to the fact when they answered the call.

“It was then difficult to have the conversation with them but it’s incredibly encouraging for me, being the one to make the phone call, how positive they were about ‘I’m going to keep making decisions difficult for you. I’m going to keep working and I want to be involved in the future, I want to be involved in the very short-term future.’”

The difficulty of selecting Ireland’s squad points to the fact that the current depth is a vast improvement on preceding years, and it also means that Ireland will have a strong list of players on standby.

Injuries almost seem inevitable in the coming weeks, something Schmidt is very aware of ahead of Saturday’s visit to Twickenham.

Simon Easterby, Joe Schmidt and Les Kiss Schmidt was flanked by Simon Easterby and Les Kiss at Carton House today. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“With the game against England, who are looking to rebound from a performance that they wouldn’t have been happy with in France, we know with the nature of the game that some of those guys (who were left out) could be involved from the very start of the tournament,” said Schmidt.

“We certainly hope we get through with a clean bill of health so we get some continuity and momentum, but if it was those guys coming in it’s a little bit of a security blanket knowing the quality.”

It’s reassuring for Schmidt, but his focus is already very much on what lies ahead for Ireland, rather than on the unfortunate men left behind.

There may be judgements made of his squad later this month or in October that benefit from hindsight, but right now Schmidt is backing the decisions made by himself and his coaching staff.

I think we got the second guessing out of our system during the six hours it took to arrive at our decisions,” said Schmidt.

“I have a belief that once you’ve made a decision, once you’ve taken a course of action, you’re fully committed to that being the correct course of action.

“If you have self doubt, and I do about so many things, it’s important you conquer that with what’s ahead of you and trying to plan to be as effective as you possibly can in helping a group prepare to meet what challenges are in front of them.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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