Joe Schmidt continues to take exception at the suggestion that his Ireland team are an up-the-jumper outfit with little else up their sleeves, writes Brendan O’Brien.
The Ireland coach first addressed that view prior to the win against Wales two weeks ago.
Though he never mentioned Warren Gatland’s name at the time, it was clear that his frustration over ‘one opposition coach creating a story and people picking up on it without doing their analysis’ was directed at his fellow Kiwi.
Gatland had made the observation that Ireland don’t play a lot of rugby prior to a World Cup warm-up game between the sides in 2015, referencing instead a tendency to utilise one-off runners and cross-kicks and focus on pressure and turnovers.
Schmidt spoke a fortnight ago about the frustration felt by some of his players in the face of that theory but he is the one countering the allegations and he was quick to do so again on Thursday afternoon when it was suggested that his side had bullied Wales on their way to a 37-27 win.
“We had some really good, tight play and some stuff that went through the middle.
“But there was some stuff down the edges as well. Keith Earls’ line break. Johnny (Sexton)’s line break. Jacob Stockdale in the corner. Certainly, that wasn’t a one-plus play. It’s one of the best passes you’d see in world rugby.
“So, we have to keep that variety to our game. At this stage we’ve probably made the third most offloads (in the Six Nations). It’s an area where people have loved to beat us with a stick and it is probably overlooked by people that there is some continuity in our play.
“Those sorts of things should allow us the variety to keep a balance in what we are doing and attack them. And then defensively you have to link up really well.”