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Dublin: 5 °C Tuesday 26 March, 2019

'History doesn't protect you from the future': Ireland primed for Grand Slam tilt

Joe Schmidt says his side are hugely motivated to complete the job at Twickenham next weekend.

Ireland have now won 11 straight Test matches.
Ireland have now won 11 straight Test matches.
Image: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

Ryan Bailey reports from the Aviva Stadium

WITH A THIRD championship crown in five years secured, Joe Schmidt says his Ireland squad are hugely motivated to complete the job in Twickenham next weekend and win the Grand Slam.

After this afternoon’s bonus-point victory over Scotland in Dublin, coupled with England’s defeat in Paris, Ireland will head to London on St Patrick’s Day gunning to end the hosts’ two-year unbeaten record at their Twickenham citadel.

It couldn’t have been scripted better.

“I think it would give me incredible satisfaction, I work with these young men who go out and do an incredibly difficult job and work very hard,” Schmidt said of the prospect of winning the Grand Slam.

“It would give me incredible satisfaction to see that rewarded. In the end the satisfaction is something that really is placed around the effort that they make.”

Despite England’s back-to-back defeats to Scotland and France, they have not lost a home game in the Six Nations under Jones, but Schmidt knows history counts for nothing on the day.

“I guess history doesn’t protect you from the future,” he said. “We knew that today.

“We hadn’t lost in five years in the Six nations here in Dublin. It didn’t protect us, we had to go out and win again.

“That’s all part of the challenge. We need to go to Twickenham and try to test that record out, I guess. It won’t be uppermost in our thinking because you can be distracted looking back when you need to be moving forward.

“We didn’t feel our five-year run in the Six Nations here [against Scotland] protected us. And I’m sure Eddie Jones and the boys will be fully focused on winning the game.”

Joe Schmidt during the post match press conference Schmidt speaking after today's game. Source: Oisin Keniry/INPHO

While Schmidt’s post-match press conference largely revolved around the prospect of winning a first Grand Slam since 2009 next week, the head coach was primarily focused on getting his players primed for the challenge which lies ahead.

The Kiwi reported no fresh injuries after the four-try win over Scotland at the Aviva Stadium, but admitted there were a lot of sore bodies after an intense Test match.

“There are plenty of knocks but no injuries, one of the good things we made a few tactical subs but none of them injury induced,” he continued.

“There was a fair bit of collision stuff out there. I had a sense it was a bit of a one-score game. It was a 20-point result in a one-score game because they probably butchered a couple of changes.

“They were very close to getting right away a couple of times.”

But it says a lot about this Ireland team — which recorded a record-breaking 11th straight victory this afternoon — that they were still able to emerge with a comfortable win even without clicking into full gear.

A first-half brace from Jacob Stockdale set the hosts on their way before Conor Murray and Sean Cronin crossed to ensure the full complement of points, which turned out to be enough to claim a 14th Six Nations title after France’s 22-16 defeat of England later in the evening.

The attention is now on Twickenham and a Grand Slam tilt.

“We’ve already spoken to the payers after the match to look after themselves,” Schmidt continued. “Always a little bit fatigued, no injuries, bumps and bruises.

“Accumulated niggles that do make the last week of a championship a fairly testing one anyway. Just keen to try to get everyone fit.

“Head off to England and see what we can do over there.”


Schmidt’s Ireland show typically clinical edge from close-range against Scots

Here’s how we rated Joe Schmidt’s Ireland in the four-try win over Scotland

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Ryan Bailey

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