In an interview with RTE Radio rugby correspondent Michael Corcoran, Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt discussed the challenges and opportunities presented by the summer tour to USA and Japan and he also looked ahead to the Rugby World Cup 2019 Pool Draw next month.
Speaking about the three-match tour to America and Japan, Joe Schmidt said he is relishing the opportunity to work closely with some players who have had limited exposure to the national team environment and lay the groundwork for the next Rugby World Cup there in 2019.
“It will be good to get across and play in the Japanese conditions. I think we are mid-afternoon kick-offs in the middle of summer so it will be a little bit more brutal humidity-wise than it will be when we get across for the World Cup,” admitted Schmidt.
“Even just to get an introduction to the cultural experience that it will be, the travel and how far away and adapting from that. And also expanding the group a little bit.
“Since Rugby World Cup 2015 we have had 20 new caps, we’ve used over 60 players in recent times. It means that we feel that we can cover this tour a little bit more than we probably could have in the past with the Lions guys going away.
“We still feel we’ve got a cohort who’ve spent a bit of time with us and there may be one or two others who haven’t, where we will take this opportunity to include them.
“I think the whole theme for the summer tour this year is long-term planning for short-term success. We know we’ve got to make sure that we can be as competitive as we can be to get the results we need in those three Test matches, but at the same time that we’ve got an eye on the future – that we are taking some players to Japan that will potentially return to Japan in two years’ time.”
Speaking about the upcoming RWC Pool Draw which will take place in Kyoto on Wednesday, May 10, the Ireland head coach commented: “May 10th is the time we will ensure we avoid New Zealand, England and Australia. You can still end up in an incredibly tough pool if the draw doesn’t go your way. You could end up with South Africa and Argentina or any of the big teams…France, Wales, Scotland.
“With Argentina being ranked ninth and the way they always come together really well at World Cup time, whoever gets that pool is still going to be under the pump a little bit, but at least we have given ourselves the first step forward into Rugby World Cup 2019 with a little bit of positivity.”