JOE SCHMIDT IS hoping to see a degree of continuity in Ireland’s performance against Georgia on Sunday in Dublin, despite making 13 changes to the team that beat South Africa last weekend.
The Kiwi coach has taken the opportunity to blood two news caps in Dave Foley and Dominic Ryan, while men such as Ian Madigan, Tommy O’Donnell, Craig Gilroy and Dave Kilcoyne step into the first team in place of more established figures.
From the bench, the likes of Stuart Olding, Kieran Marmion and Rodney Ah You will be expectant of gaining more international exposure.
That all these players have pre-existing experience in Schmidt’s group, have worked under his exacting stadards at Carton House, and understand his systems in depth are the basis for the Ireland head coach’s belief that Ireland’s progress can continue.
“Therefore, it’s not a sudden thing. That’s why we’re hopeful that we will get a degree of continuity. They’re not going to be perfect, but they’ll be trying to work towards perfection at least.”
Schmidt runs through Ireland’s tactics with Ian Madigan. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO
Schmidt demands nothing less than that constant desire for flawlessness. These relatively fresh faces will be judged by the very same measures as Johnny Sexton, Paul O’Connell and Jamie Heaslip, regardless of the fact Ireland face a team ranked 15th in the world.
Sweeping changes to a team often lead to difficulties in finding a cohesive performance, but Schmidt explains that the layout of Ireland’s November fixtures meant alterations were always likely.
“I think we’d always planned to make a few changes,” admits Schmidt. “We’ve got a six-day turnaround to Australia and an eight-day turnarnound after playing South Africa just doesn’t seem like enough.
“There’s a couple of guys who are backing up who we hope get through ok, and I guess for those guys who are getting their first run of the Guinness Series, it’s a fantastic opportunity.”