Joe Schmidt spoke to the media yesterday as he named his matchday 23 to take on Wales at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The injuries to Tadhg Furlong, Iain Henderson and Robbie Henshaw dominated the discussion for much of Schmidt’s time with the media but towards the end of the ‘live’ briefing, Schmidt indicated his frustration at a perceived narrative that his side are blunt in attack.
The Kiwi coach highlighted the “fine margins” which took place in the last two games with Wales in the Six Nations, a 16-16 draw in Dublin two years ago and the 22-9 loss in Cardiff last year.
“Even two years ago when they were here, I think we led 13-3 and they got a scrum platform which in the end, Taulupe Faletau scored off, that they kept the pressure on and in the end, it was a 16-16 draw,” Schmidt said.
“On the back of us having a number of players missing and history, if it does repeat itself, we’re in a similar circumstance this time as well.
“We’re going to have to demonstrate that there is a strength of squad and we’re excited about getting the opportunity to do that. As far as those fine margins are concerned, as I mentioned last year, we hit the front with 15-9, we get the ball over the line, we kick the goal we’re 16-15 up. So I don’t see there being a huge amount wrong with the plan because at that stage, we had the yellow card and they scored when Johnny was off the pitch at one stage and then when the yellow card was there so we would hope we will have the discipline not to allow them that – those are the fine margins.”
Inevitably, Schmidt was probed further about this in the print briefing afterwards and according to the Irish Independent, there is an element of frustration with Warren Gatland’s infamous comments after the World Cup warm-up game in 2015 between the sides where Gatland said he “doesn’t think Ireland play a lot of rugby.”
Schmidt believes that this comment has been adopted, unfairly, by other pundits and critics with regard to his side’s attack.
“Sometimes it is frustrating because there is all this opportunity, one opposition coach (Gatland) has tried to create that story and people have picked it up without doing their own analysis,” Schmidt said.
“I think there is a degree of frustration from our players, I am not sure why he would get more credence than (Argentina coach) Daniel Hourcade who was really impressed or (former Springboks boss) Allister Coetzee who was really impressed.
Ireland face Wales in the latest chapter of this intensive rivalry at 2.15 pm tomorrow afternoon.