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in the bank

Kearney's experience swung decision to restore fullback for All Black clash -- Schmidt

Schmidt is also hopeful that the 21-year-olds on the bench don’t have to ‘chase shadows’ when they make their Test debut.

Sean Farrell reports from Chicago

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt admits it was a difficult decision to arrive at selecting Rob Kearney to start against New Zealand this Saturday, but the Leinster man’s experience helped swing him a recall to the number 15 jersey.

Kearney missed out on the summer tour of South Africa through injury and his absence gave an opportunity to Jared Payne and Tiernan O’Halloran to fill in at fullback.

O’Halloran was omitted from this tour, leaving Payne as the main alternative for the tole. However, such a switch would have required Schmidt to pit Garry Ringrose in for an international debut against a fiercely unforgiving All Black side.

“There were a number of variables involved in that, including the balance of what was coming off the bench and what we had starting,” Schmidt said of Kearney getting the nod.

We have tried to go with a little bit of experience, just because of the magnitude of the game and the quality of the opposition, to be honest.

“That’s a starting point for us, and once those younger guys do get on, that will give us an opportunity to assess them a little bit against a very, very high standard of opposition.

“At the same time it will give them an idea of what it’s like to play at the very, very top level.”

Schmidt is of course referring to both Ringrose and 21-year-old out-half Joey Carbery who is also hoping to make a Test debut against the best team in the world.

Joey Carbery Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO


Irish teams often insist upon waiting until tier two nations come around to blood new faces, but the excellent form of the two Leinster tyros has earned them inclusion among the replacements. And the head coach is confident they will be the ideal men to suit the pace of the game if they should enter in the second half.

“It’s a little bit daunting for them but it’s a great opportunity to learn,” Schmidt said.

When they get out there I’ve no doubt the pace of the game will be pretty sharp. Those two youngsters, they can run all day and hopefully we’re not chasing shadows.

“Hopefully they can get a shot with the ball and demonstrate a little bit of the talent we’ve seen in them.

“It’s a bit of a baptism of fire, it’s probably not ideal.

“It would have been nice probably to have them in a Test match that was slightly less daunting, but they’ve been quite refreshing in how enthusiastic they’ve been, they’ve haven’t shown signs of being intimidated by the task.

“And I think excitement at the moment is overriding the nerves as far as having to go out and step out onto such a big stage.

Joe Schmidt Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“I think they are both quite natural players, the two young guys: Garry, he reads things well, he picks his moments well (and) he makes good decisions.

“Joey Carbery’s been very similar. Probably the thing that’s been impressive about Joey is that he played pre-season games and he’s played every weekend since the season’s started, which again isn’t ideal, particularly for such a young player in his first season.

“So we were pretty keen to give him the weekend off to be honest, but at the same time he’s had such a bounce about him that he’s really given us the confidence that he’s ready to go.”

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