Ir­ish coach warns play­ers to fo­cus on Pu­mas threat

Weekend Post (South Africa) - - Sport -

Ire­land coach Joe Sch­midt has warned his play­ers lin­ing up for Sat­ur­day’s one-off Test with Ar­gentina in Dublin to keep their fo­cus on it and not with world cham­pi­ons New Zea­land a week later.

Sch­midt, who is hop­ing for a suc­cess­ful end to a re­mark­able year which has seen them se­cure the Six Na­tions Grand Slam and a Test se­ries win in Aus­tralia, said they would be only hu­man not to be think­ing of the match be­tween the toptwo-ranked teams in the world, but it could prove costly, such is com­pe­ti­tion for places.

Ar­gentina should pro­vide a test­ing ex­am­i­na­tion pro­vided they are not too tired, hav­ing come out of the Rugby Cham­pi­onship with two vic­to­ries un­der new head coach Mario Ledesma, in­clud­ing their first in Aus­tralia since 1983.

“I hope ev­ery­one is look­ing over their shoul­der,” said Sch­midt, re­fer­ring to the play­ers in the start­ing XV.

“Any­one runs a lit­tle bit harder when they hear the breath­ing of some­one be­hind them. I don’t want them look­ing around. I just want them to run harder so they can keep their dis­tance. It is up to this week’s group to keep them at bay,” he said.

Sch­midt, who is seen by some as a fu­ture coach of the All Blacks af­ter his suc­cess with Ire­land, made it clear that any­one who doesn’t meet his high stan­dards on Sat­ur­day will have the next week­end off.

“They un­der­stand fully that any who look that far ahead [to the All Blacks match] they com­pro­mise what they de­liver this week­end,” he said.

“Then as a re­sult, next week they’re re­ally look­ing for­ward to the game but watch­ing it from the stands, that’s not where they want to be.

“They want to have their boots and they want to be right in amongst it.”

Sch­midt, whose side be­gan the No­vem­ber Tests with a 54-7 thump­ing of Italy, said Ar­gentina would prove chal­leng­ing.

“This is our first south­ern hemi­sphere game of this se­ries and you saw in Aus­tralia, the way that south­ern hemi­sphere rugby is played on the back of Su­per Rugby is worth a fair bit of free­dom,” the 53-year-old New Zealan­der said.

“The Ar­gen­tines would prob­a­bly be, to a de­gree, a lit­tle bit more com­bat­ive at the ruck than some of the other teams who tend to let a fair few rucks go and then sud­denly they’ll have a crack and turn you over.

“So we’re go­ing to have to re­ally be on our met­tle.”

Sch­midt is es­pe­cially wary of the Pu­mas’ vi­brant, at­tack­minded backs. Full­back Emil­iano Bof­felli and wings Bautista Del­guy and Ramiro Moy­ano have the abil­ity to cut de­fences to rib­bons – Bof­felli and Del­guy scored three tries apiece in the Rugby Cham­pi­onship.

“If their back three get the ball the more likely they [the Ar­gen­tini­ans] are go­ing to break teams open, be­cause they’re tackle-break­ers, they’re line-break­ers and they link up in be­hind the line re­ally ef­fec­tively once they break the line,” Sch­midt said. – AFP

We’re go­ing to have to re­ally be on our met­tle Joe Sch­midt IRE­LAND COACH

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.