Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is optimistic for his side’s chances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup after watching them defeat Scotland in Edinburgh this past weekend.
The Irish had opened the defence of their Six Nations Championship on a low note with a crushing defeat at home to England, but they bounced back this past weekend with a 22-13 victory over the Scots.
While Schmidt acknowledges that England are likely to go on and claim the honours in this year’s Six Nations, he has hope that Ireland will prime themselves for the major prize on offer in Japan later this year – especially as they blend in new players to cope with a growing injury list.
“Look, if we’d never won one of these [Six Nations title] before we would be even more gutted,” explained the Shamrocks’ coach.
“But we’ve done well in the Six Nations in the last five years so if it doesn’t come to pass this year, there is a big thing at the end of the year for us.
“And any time we get the opportunity to blend guys in and be forced to make late changes and be forced to kind of reconstruct what we do on the pitch, I think it helps vaccinate us against what happened last time [when injuries to key players at the 2015 World Cup were so costly].
“While no vaccination is 100 percent, you’re hoping that inch-by-inch you can get a little bit more comfortable and confident that people can step in and do a job.”
Schmidt added that the best is yet to come from Ireland in this Six Nations.
“I thought the fluency, you know, we had two tries in the first quarter,” he explained. “For me, that’s relatively good reward and you know the set-play that we did score off, that needs a bit of fluency.
“But then, when you lose your hub it is a big call to suddenly say you are not going to miss a beat and so we did miss a few beats and we did put a few passes down.
“Even then, twice Rob Kearney looked like he was almost away to score. He looked for Chris Farrell on the inside and if that pass goes to hand, I think Chris Farrell scores. We weren’t far away from breaking down what’s a really good defence.
“So I’m not distraught that we’ve got no options, I’m just frustrated I’d like us to be creating more opportunities so we can capitalise on more of them.”