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Cronin: Intensity Is Joe’s Middle Name

Cronin: Intensity Is Joe’s Middle Name

During Joe Schmidt’s tenure at Leinster, a key element of his coaching was to use his bench. Whether a player was named in the starting team or among the substitutes, he was willing to utilise the replacements.

No surprise then that it was seen during Ireland’s GUINNESS Series win over Samoa, when Joe Schmidt began to empty the bench with 20 minutes remaining.

For this weekend’s clash with Australia hooker Sean Cronin is again among the reserves, but he knows he must prepare as though he was starting as he could be called upon at any moment.

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“Working with Joe for the last two seasons, it is something you have to be prepared for because you could be on at any stage of the game,” explained Cronin, speaking on team announcement day at Caron House.

“If he sees an opportunity that a player can come on and add something here, and bring something to that department, he will probably look to use it.

“You have to be well clued in and focused. Basically prepare as if you are going to be starting. That is the way I look at it.”

Cronin will almost certainly get some game-time against the Wallabies on Saturday evening and although he was an unused replacement in Ireland’s memorable 15-9 victory over the Wallabies at the 2011 World Cup, he feels Schmidt’s side need to produce a similar performance this weekend.

“It is very important (to get a similar performance) in terms of the new regime that has come in as well, with Joe and (forwards coach) John Plumtree.

“It will be very important for building squad morale and going forward into the Six Nations. We are not really looking at that. We are just looking at this weekend because it is a huge game.

“Every Test match is huge. This one is in front of the home crowd so it will be be important. It has varying degrees of importance, long-term or short-term.

“We know we are not looking past this weekend. If we manage to get a win then it will be brilliant for squad morale and going forward.”

The Limerick-born front rower was sprung from the bench on the hour mark against Samoa in a game which Ireland never looked like losing.

A 40-9 triumph, with five tries scores, saw Ireland begin their November campaign with a comfortable enough win, but this week gives an opportunity to see how far the men in green have progressed in their limited time together as a team.

“(With) Samoa, we knew what they were going to bring. Huge physicality to the game and I thought our detail when it came to the breakdown and in our set piece was brilliant,” added Cronin.

“I thought the lads did fantastic there in the scrum and at lineout time, but Australia is a major step up.

“They have a great mixture of really attacking backs and forwards who can intermingle and who can bring good varying degrees of attacking play when they mix together.

“We know we are going to have to be on our game when it come to defence and the breakdown and the set piece which is going to break the game down nicely at the weekend.”

Last Saturday Schmidt’s enthusiasm and attention to detail was evident as he put the Irish through their pre-match paces and Cronin believes that this has rubbed off on the players. The 27-year-old has also seen a rise in the intensity with the arrival of Schmidt.

“It is great to see because we know how up for it he is. The players have to be a couple of pegs higher than him, but like I said Joe loves the game, is passionate but is extremely intelligent and shrewd as well. He knows how to get his players going and he has the lads well primed for the weekend.

“Intensity is Joe’s middle name really. He demands what he does from his players and training is no different. He is trying to bring that in, game speed, game decisions, that have to be made with the snap of a finger, so the sessions have been fairly intense but they have been fairly enjoyable.

“They are short and sharp. He is looking for high quality in everything we do so, maybe slightly more intense than previous regimes that were here.”

Alongside Schmidt, John Plumtree has worked heavily on the lineout flaws which were evident during last season’s Six Nations Championship.

Those small details seemed to be ironed out against Samoa and with Devin Toner combining with captain Paul O’Connell in the second row this weekend, Plumtree will be hoping to add another dimension to Ireland’s lineout.

Cronin admitted: “John has come in and has really broken it down. He is looking at the throw, the jump, the lift, every aspect of it. It has been really enjoyable that way.

“I have been working with him a bit myself so we know what he wants. It seems like he is dreaming about mauls when he goes home at night! It is an aspect that he wants to bring in and he wants to simplify it and he really wants to get us going on that front.

“Dev has been a rock in the Leinster pack this year and he has stepped up to the plate in the last 18 months. It is fantastic for him. A huge opportunity.

“I thought he did well last week and it is great that he is getting another opportunity and Paulie is coming in next to him. I’m sure they can get a good relationship going.”