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Schmidt: Really Positive Environment Created In Camp

Schmidt: Really Positive Environment Created In Camp

After winning three European trophies with Leinster, the level of expectation surrounding new Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is understandable. He may have swapped the blue shirt of Leinster for the green of Ireland, but it is very much business as usual for Schmidt after his first training camp in the Irish set-up.

Speaking today at Carton House, the venue for the Ireland squad’s two-day training camp, Joe Schmidt said: “It’s a really positive environment and that environment is inevitably created by the players. It is a really willing bunch.

“That sprinkling of youth is a great reminder to the experienced that they need to be on their metal.

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“At the same time, it’s like anything, sometimes when you come into something and it’s a little bit different (and) a little bit fresh.”

Schmidt brought 42 players into his first squad for this week’s training camp in Maynooth. The likes of Tommy O’Donnell, Michael Bent, Stuart Olding, Andrew Trimble, Craig Gilroy and Felix Jones were all excluded due to injury.

But Schmidt is adamant that any player who was not named in the initial panel can still make the squad for the GUINNESS Series in November.

“We are incredibly open minded about selection. We just want the best group to get together for the November series and we struggled to prune it back to be honest.

“I made a number of phone calls to a couple of guys to say, ‘look here is a couple of aspects we would like you to keep working away on, but you are not far away’.

“You not being in this camp, doesn’t necessarily mean you wont be involved in November. We have to do that because we have to try and grow our base.

“If we have got guys on the fringe, who can come in, position for position and hopefully not lose too much in terms of an injury to an experienced player, we can be a little bit more difficult to beat even if we’ve got those injuries.”

The next big question for Schmidt is the captaincy and whether he should continue with Jamie Heaslip, return the role to Brian O’Driscoll or Paul O’Connell, or give it to the emerging Peter O’Mahony who led the men in green during their successful summer tour of North America. 

Schmidt is keen to stress that it is not a decision that would be made lightly, but it is a decision he would like to make as soon as possible to have clarity around the captain.

“We haven’t spoken about it (the captaincy) at all. At the moment (our new forwards coach) John Plumtree is recently in.

“We’ve been talking about what each of the players bring and the strengths and weaknesses of different players. John virtually was in and we immediately were looking at selection. We needed to get to games and have a look at players to be able to watch an individual player for 20 minutes.

“I think any of those guys (above), (and) Rory Best has been a guy who has had a leadership role. Those guys add genuine value. So to try and make a decision is really difficult at the moment.

“I think it’s something you probably keep a track of how guys are going and get some feedback from some of the other coaching staff.

“Collectively we will put our heads together and make a decision before we go into the four weeks of preparation for Samoa,” he added, with reference to the opening game of the GUINNESS Series against the South Sea Islanders on Saturday, November 9.