Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 28 August 2014

RBS 6 Nations: Joe Schmidt admits Jonathan Sexton's accuracy didn't hit the mark

Coach's call: Joe Schmidt will be brutally honest with his players

IRELAND coach Joe Schmidt hinted that he is not completely happy with the situation regarding fly-half Jonathan Sexton.

"Again, a couple of things didn't quite come off for Johnny with the boot," Schmidt said after the defeat by England, though he was quick to add: "But again we're looking for quite fine margins there on those couple of kick-offs.

"Unfortunately he hasn't had a lot of chance to practice them too much in the conditions that we've trained in recently. At Carton House they've done a great job trying to keep the fields dry.

"In Clonmel he obviously wasn't there to practice them anyway – he had to go back and play (for Racing Metro) against Bayonne. Unfortunately, trying to build things now, with Johnny going back to potentially play against Castres it's just a little bit difficult to probably get as much accuracy as we're looking forward."

Asked if he was proud of his side's performance, Schmidt's response was: "You cannot come to Twickenham and roll your sleeves up like we did and not feel proud.

"They feel frustrated, they feel disappointed, the least I can do is feel proud of the effort and the endeavour and the blood, sweat and tears that they put in to it, and they'll also understand that we'll try to help ourselves along and have a pretty forensic look at it and be fairly brutal with each other.

While most of the post-match statistics weighed heavily in Ireland's favour, the scoreboard did not.

"Yeah, there's some disappointment there obviously," the coach said. "I think anybody could see the (English) hand in the scrum – that would have given us the three points, a draw, and I think we would have been good for that."

He smiled when asked if the possibility of winning the championship even though there can be no Triple Crown or Grand Slam was a carrot for his players now.

"I guess it might become a carrot if we can take care of Italy," Schmidt said. "We have to try to build piece by piece."

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