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Ireland at the 2019 Rugby World Cup

Coach & Captain’s Verdict: Ireland 50 Canada 7

Coach & Captain’s Verdict: Ireland 50 Canada 7

Head coach Joe Schmidt and captain Paul O’Connell were both pleased with Ireland’s winning start to Rugby World Cup 2015, but saw plenty of room for improvement as they look ahead to next Sunday’s meeting with Romania at Wembley.

JOE SCHMIDT –

ON IRELAND’S FIRST MATCH OF RWC 2015:

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“I think we showed some respect for Canada and they deserved that. They are a combative side. For us to build the scoreboard pressure on them was satisfying. It is sometimes difficult after you have a good lead to stay structured and disciplined and that was probably a bit disappointing.

“But at the same time, Canada made it difficult to do that. They have got some elusive and effective ball runners and made it tough for us to stay in control of all aspects of our game. Our set piece delivered really well.”

ON IRELAND’S PERFORMANCE:

“It was a mix of what we had been working on and also a bit tailored to what we thought we had to do. If you try and outmuscle Canada it’s hard, because they don’t lack any prowess there. We wanted to get them chasing a bit too.

“But they were hard to break down. The next game against Romania we will aim to do something that suits (us against) their game.”

ON MAN-OF-THE-MATCH JONATHAN SEXTON:

“I felt Johnny played really well today. He passed 500 points in international rugby, which is a milestone and hugely deserved for the effort and work he puts in.

“He will reflect on the game and the first wide pass he made that looped into touch. He will probably chastise himself for that, but there were probably 30 other positive moments for him. But that’s the way he is with himself and the way he leads the team as well.

ON THE ROMANIA GAME AND TEAM SELECTION:

“I don’t think too much has changed in terms of the Romania game because we came through unscathed. It is our intention to test the breadth of the squad.

“There are some guys who haven’t had a lot of game-time, like Cian Healy. So, through these first two games the idea would be for them all to get some game-time in preparation for the back end of the pool. But we have to be conscious that every game will be tough.”

ON IAIN HENDERSON’S PERFORMANCE:

“You’ve got to look how far he has come in the last couple of years. He has been a member of our Six Nations squad for the past couple of years although much of his contribution has come at the back end of the game.

“His ability to carry and get over the gain-line is a big plus for us. He did really well today, he gets through a fair bit of defensive work too. His tackle count was right up there as well.”

ON LUKE FITZGERALD’S PERFORMANCE:

“I thought Luke did really well at 12, his distribution to give Dave Kearney space for his try was great. Defensively he was sound and his ball-carrying is a strength.

“He punched a half-gap off a scrum and that put them under pressure straight away. He stays alive really well in the defensive line, he’s got good alertness, communicates really well and slotted in well.”

PAUL O’CONNELL –

ON IRELAND’S FIRST GAME OF THE TOURNAMENT:

“I’m not sure but I think we were one of the last teams over here. In the southern Hemisphere, you go over a bit earlier and enjoy the buzz a bit more. So, we came here a bit later so it was great to finally be in it.

“The coach journey into the stadium was fantastic with all the Irish supporters in the streets and the players loved the atmosphere. It’s great to be in the thick of the competition and we are looking forward to moving on to St. George’s (Ireland’s next base).”

ON WHETHER THE PLAYERS WILL WATCH FRANCE v ITALY:

“There is no plan. Some of the boys will watch and some of them won’t. The All-Ireland final (between Dublin and Kerry) tomorrow is probably more on their minds and they will probably sit down as a group and watch that.”