Joe Schmidt defended Ireland’s style of play on Thursday, insisting his side did not bully Wales and hinting that anyone taking their lead from Warren Gatland should “do more homework”.
Wales coach Gatland criticised Ireland’s supposedly dull approach before a World Cup warm-up game in 2015 and the label has stuck, with Schmidt frustrated by its reference before the sides’ Six Nations meeting a fortnight ago.
Having seen off Gatland’s men to move five points clear at the top of the Six Nations standings after three wins from three, Schmidt was again quizzed on the manner of Ireland’s performance ahead of Saturday’s match against Scotland.
While he did not mention Gatland by name, the Ireland coach impressed upon the media the need for people to form their own opinions by watching the team play.
“I would probably challenge people to do more homework and not to follow the lead of someone where statistically it doesn’t balance up with what is being said,” Schmidt told a pre-match news conference.
“We had some really good stuff that went down the middle against Wales, but we had some good stuff on the edges with some of the best passes you will see in world rugby.
— Irish Rugby (@IrishRugby) March 8, 2018
“We need to keep that variety. We have made the third-most offloads and that’s an area where people have beaten us with a stick. So we have more variety and we will need that balance this weekend.”
Schmidt added that Sean O’Brien could be in line for a recall for the potentially decisive final game of the campaign against England, should he prove his fitness for Leinster.
“I’ll be watching Sean and how he leads the side,” he said. “That will be of interest to us on Friday night.”
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