Schmidt confident players ready for 'incredibly hostile' game

Schmidt confident players ready for 'incredibly hostile' game
Prop Mike Ross starts against the Springboks

By Grainne McGuinnessand Shaun Cronin

Joe Schmidt has said he is confident that the players who are returning from injury will be able for the rigours of Saturday’s huge game against South Africa.

The Springboks come into the game as what Rob Kearney described as “the form team in the world” - brimming with confidence after last month’s defeat of the All-Blacks.

But Schmidt has expressed his faith in the players to be ready for the physical battles ahead.

Prop Mike Ross had the biggest question mark over him. The 34-year-old has battled to return to fitness after a niggling groin injury kept him out of action since Leinster’s game against Munster in early October.

Given his lack of match fitness, Schmidt was asked at yesterday's team announcement if he was felt Ross would be able for 80 minutes of test rugby.

“Yeah, really confident. Mike has trained really well, particularly at the back end of this week, “ said Schmidt.

“You can never be sure about anyone returning from injury, but I’d like to think that he’s really well prepared. He’s done a lot of off the pitch. I know there is nothing like pitch conditioning, but he has certainly been tested.”

Joe Schmidt speaking yesterday.

Should Ross be unable to complete the match, Schmidt is confident that Connacht’s Rodney Ah You is capable of stepping in.

“Rodney’s scrummaged really well,” he said. “He did another great job against Ospreys last weekend and he did a great job against Glasgow.”

Schmidt has also dispelled any doubts over Jonny Sexton's fitness.

The Racing Metro player was subbed off during his Top 14 game at the weekend with a suspected hamstring injury, but again the Ireland head coach is happy he out-half is match ready and selected him over Ian Madigan.

"He has gone in and out a bit with Ian Madigan, but that is something we would do anyway to help prepare both players, “ he said. "But Jonny took a full part in training and trained well.”

However Schmidt’s faith in his chosen side doesn’t blind him to the difficulties of the task facing Ireland on Saturday.

“We have got to go with what we think is the fittest team available, that will cope with an environment that’s going to be incredibly hostile."

Breakingnews.ie reporter Shaun Cronin spoke to Irish Examiner rugby correspondent Simon Lewis about the upcoming match.

More in this Section

Bulgaria national coach Krasimir Balakov and BFU committee resign – reportsBulgaria national coach Krasimir Balakov and BFU committee resign – reports

Tottenham to appear in Amazon documentaryTottenham to appear in Amazon documentary

Klopp blocks out the noise as Liverpool prepare for Old Trafford tripKlopp blocks out the noise as Liverpool prepare for Old Trafford trip

Stirling and Balbirnie star as Ireland brush aside Hong Kong in opening World Cup qualifierStirling and Balbirnie star as Ireland brush aside Hong Kong in opening World Cup qualifier


Lifestyle

These are the nail hues to choose this season, says Katie Wright.Perfectly polished: 5 autumn/winter nail trends you’ll actually want to wear

This early 19th-century table is one of a number of Irish lots at Sotheby’s Style, Furniture and Ceramics sale in New York on Thursday (October 24).Irish lots poised to add bite to Big Apple sale

Something for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon, says Des O’SullivanSomething for all at Hegarty’s auction in Bandon

Des O’Sullivan gives a preview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in DublinPreview of the Irish selection on offer at two sales in Dublin

More From The Irish Examiner