Generally, on a Tuesday of a Test match, one of Joe Schmidt’s assistant coaches would address the media.
The head coach generally only appears for media duties on team announcement day and directly after games.
So it was interesting that Schmidt went against this trend in the immediate aftermath of Ireland’s record defeat to England at Twickenham on Saturday.
There was no shortage of questions fielded to the 53-year-old Kiwi and besides reflecting on the defeat to Eddie Jones’ side and the reasons for it, the health of Ireland’s top players dominated the discussion.
Most notably, the concerns surrounding Johnny Sexton, Cian Healy, Conor Murray and Keith Earls.
Sexton hasn’t played for Ireland so far this summer and his preseason preparations were delayed by a thumb injury he picked up last month.
It was then reported that the out-half is carrying a leg injury but Schmidt says that it’s just soreness and stiffness rather than anything untoward.
“He doesn’t have a leg injury per se, he’s got a bit of stiffness and soreness,” Schmidt said.
“If we wanted to pick him this weekend we could pick him. If you had seen him out there and how hard he was running, it’s a progression for him. When people don’t have full medical information and report things there is always a risk…
“You get a little feeling of discomfort and we just didn’t want to do that. Because he got a bit behind with his thumb and was then chasing his tail, we would anticipate Johnny would definitely play if not this weekend then next weekend.”
For Murray, the Limerick man was removed at halftime on Saturday after he picked up a knock when attempting to tackle Jonny May. Schmidt confirmed that Murray has passed all stages of HIA testing and that he trained fully today.
“Conor trained fully this morning and did all that was required of him. Our initial plan for Conor was to only play two games before we go. Last weekend and potentially the final game of the lead-in. We will make a decision on that.”
For Healy, the loosehead gingerly walked off the Twickenham turf with an ankle injury but Schmidt expects him to be fit for the final warm-up game with Wales in two weeks’ time.
“Cian, he is bullish. Cian was involved in the first game and the second game. He probably wasn’t on the radar for this game anyway. We are probably just going to stick with that plan anyway.
“He is unlikely to play this Saturday and will play the Saturday after. I would be gobsmacked if he is not available for that because this weekend (and in terms of playing) is something that we could look at with Cian.”
Schmidt confirmed that Earls, who has yet to appear for Ireland this summer, is suffering from tendonitis in his knee.
However, the Ireland head coach is comfortable in Earls being one of those players that doesn’t need too many minutes under his belt to perform at the highest level and he does expect him to play a part in the final warm-up game against Wales.
“Really frustrating for him. He looked super sharp. He got a little bit, I suppose you’d call it tendonitis in the knee, just above it. It’s just niggling away more than anything else. We have tried to get any inflammation out of that by not pushing him.
“He’s a player who we know plays really well fresh. It is about playing the long game with Keith and making sure that he is 100 per cent ready to go. I know that he will be ready for the weekend after this one. I doubt whether he will be involved this weekend.”