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Schmidt keeping close eye on Reddan, Ryan and Fitzgerald before 'toughest Test of all' in England

The Kiwi coach is fastening down the core of his squad in Clonmel after enduring the worst wind he has ever trained in.

Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

IRELAND COACH JOE Schmidt says he is preparing for the toughest Test of this year’s Six Nations campaign, England in Twickenham.

The Kiwi coach will today bring his side out for a second day of training in Clonmel after what Schmidt described as “the worst wind I’ve ever trained in.”

Two games and two impressive wins into his first competitive international tournament, in today’s IRFU release from the camp Schmidt was asked what he has learned so far and the Kiwi gave a typically simple answer as he looks forward rather than back.

“So far, we’ve learned that it’s always going to be tough. We’ve had a bit of luck go our way and it’s allowed us to be top of the tournament at the moment, but the really tough ones are coming up. Probably the toughest of all, against England at Twickenham, is coming up.”

Before today’s session is done, we should know the make-up of at least the Ulster and Leinster teams in Pro12 action this weekend. But Schmidt offered some insight into the starting XVs by highlighting the names of Jack McGrath, Martin Moore, Sean Cronin, Tommy O’Donnell, Felix Jones, Darren Cave and Luke Marshall as ones he would be watching out for.

On top of those fit and well players, Schmidt also hopes to see three potentially key players return from injury.

“It’d be great if Eoin Reddan and Luke Fitzgerald are involved with Leinster on Friday night and then again on Saturday [against England]. Donnacha Ryan is, I think, available for selection post injury. Whether or not they appear I’m not sure, but we’re very interested in those guys.”

As for his progress towards one of his stated goals of creating squad depth, Schmidt says there is a balance to be found between picking the form XV and giving players more experience at Test level.

“You balance it on form mostly,” said Schmidt, “and one of the difficult things if you are looking to grow the squad is that players that are on the field most of the time. If they’re in great form and doing their job it’s hard to keep them out of the side.

“That’s their challenge, to stay in good form and to keep delivering. It’s a challenge for the other guys to put the best performances that they can together.”

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