Ire­land look to the fu­ture as they wel­come All Blacks

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - SPORT -

JOE SCH­MIDT will put things right this week and send out an Ire­land side to face world cham­pi­ons New Zealand tomorrow that is un­recog­nis­able from the one that was out­played by Aus­tralia last weekend, Ir­ish rugby leg­end Ron­nie Daw­son told AFP.

The 81-year-old for­mer Ir­ish hooker – who cap­tained the Bri­tish and Ir­ish Li­ons in six Tests, a record he jointly holds with for­mer Eng­land skip­per Martin John­son – said Sch­midt was too good a coach not to be able to fix ar­eas where the Ir­ish were lack­ing in last Satur­day’s 32-15 de­feat.

Sch­midt, who guided Ir­ish prov­ince Le­in­ster to two Euro­pean Cups, was ap­pointed af­ter the sack­ing of De­clan Kid­ney ear­lier this year fol­low­ing a dis­ap­point­ing Six Na­tions cam­paign.

How­ever, Daw­son – who was also Ire­land’s first-ever coach when he was ap­pointed in 1969 – ad­mit­ted there was much to be im­proved on if the Ir­ish are to beat the All Blacks for the first time and pre­vent them be­com­ing the first team in the pro­fes­sional era to win all their Tests in a cal­en­dar year.

“I was dis­ap­pointed not only by the re­sult but also by the man­ner in which the Ir­ish team played,” a fit and sprightly Daw­son told AFP at a cer­e­mony where he was in­ducted, along with among oth­ers Scot­land’s Gavin Hast­ings and for­mer Wal­laby scrumhalf Ge­orge Gre­gan, into the In­ter­na­tional Rugby Board's Hall of Fame in Dublin.

“There were ar­eas where they should have been much bet­ter, es­pe­cially the skill fac­tor and their de­fence.

“I think for things to go bet­ter on Sun­day, all the ba­sics of the game have to be ex­e­cuted in a much bet­ter man­ner and if they man­age that then they can at least equal the All Blacks there.”

Daw­son said Sch­midt would have seen the same weak­nesses he had. “Joe Sch­midt is an ex­cel­lent coach and rugby man and he will cer­tainly know what is re­quired,” said Daw­son. “If he man­ages that well it will be up to the play­ers then but mir­a­cles do hap­pen.”

Daw­son, who won 27 caps for Ire­land, said Sch­midt will also change the men­tal­ity sur­round­ing the Ir­ish na­tional side, ex­pressly the ex­cuse for some poor re­sults as be­ing down to a slow process in chang­ing per­son­nel.

“We have been a side in tran­si­tion for too long. There are a lot of ex­cel­lent play­ers reach­ing the end and a lot of young play­ers who are not be­ing called up but are get­ting ex­pe­ri­ence with their prov­inces. Now is time to change the guard.” – Sapa-AFP

UN­DER PRES­SURE: coach Joe Sch­midt.


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