Joe Schmidt: Keith Earls 'playing really well' but I'm not fully satisfied with team game

By Grainne McGuinness and Shaun Cronin

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt congratulated Keith Earls on his man-of-the-match performance against Romania yesterday, but said the player would be more interested in the collective result than individual plaudits.

“I know Keith well enough to know that he’ll be fully focused on what it means to the team,” Schmidt said afterwards. “I thought he took the tries well and I think he’s played really well in the two games we’ve played so far.

“He’ll be just focused on that hoping that he can continue to deliver that for the team.”

With his two tries yesterday Earls joined Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland's record try scorer at World Cups, an achievement Schmidt said any player would be proud of.

“It’s nice for him to be mentioned in the same sentence as Brian O’Driscoll,” he said. “I suppose that’s the standard that any back in an Irish back line wants to reach.”

Schmidt showed his perfectionist nature when asked if he was satisfied with all aspects of the game after Ireland’s 44-10 victory.

"I don't think you are ever totally satisfied, because if you’re satisfied you’ve had the perfect game,” he explained. “We know it wasn't a perfect game.”

But he gave credit to the Irish squad for doing what other highly-fancied teams have struggled to do so far in the tournament, win the easy games.

“We know also that it’s a difficult thing to work your way through a couple of games where you’re heavily favoured to get the right result.”

Schmidt continued: “As we’ve seen already in this tournament, being heavily favoured to get a result and getting the result are two different things.

“Romania demonstrated how tough they make the game for you, because physically they are well put together. They defended really well, are a fantastic collective and made it a very tough afternoon for us."

Looking ahead to next week, Schmidt expects Italy to provide a stern test for Ireland.

“I suppose for them they will have been looking at this game from the start knowing this is the game they need to win.

“I expect them to throw everything at us next week."

Shaun Cronin, head sports reporter of breakingnews.ie speaking to the Irish Examiner's rugby correspondent Simon Lewis on Ireland's RWC match against Romania this weekend. Video by Dan Linehan.

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