Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 21 August 2014

Rugby World Cup: Ireland will spring into life in New Zealand: Schmidt

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt has backed Declan Kidney to turn Ireland's form around and succeed at the World Cup.

The New Zealander yesterday compared the international team's form with the rocky period early in his tenure last year when the province went four games without a win as his side's form came under intense scrutiny.

After bouncing back and winning the Heineken Cup, Schmidt has plenty of credit in the bank this season — which kicks off away to the Ospreys on Friday — and he believes there are enough quality players at Kidney's disposal for Ireland to recover their mojo.

“People were asking me similar questions after round four last year, would I turn it around,” he said. “Declan's had four games. The equipment is there and I think he's going to get that equipment into working order.

“Certainly, the Leinster players who have been in and out (of the camp) today are absolutely committed to making sure that they get the margins on their side. They need to get more accuracy and I'm pretty confident that they can do that.”

Schmidt's already tight resources have been stretched further by Shane Jennings' call-up to the international set-up in the wake of David Wallace's injury.

He becomes the 14th Leinster player to be selected and with centre Eamonn Sheridan ruled out until the new year with a knee injury, Andrew Conway out for two weeks with an ankle injury and Steven Sykes gone for up to a month with medial ligament damage, Leinster's depth is set to be seriously tested.

Openside Jennings has his critics who believe he is underpowered at international level, but his club coach is backing him to have an impact on the big stage next month.

“I'm delighted for Jenno,” he said. “He made an impression for us on Friday night against Northampton, organising our defence and giving us impetus.

“He's deceptively powerful. He's 105kg and no small man by any means. It doesn't make him massive, but he tends to fight his corner. He gets guys on the ground very quickly, so he doesn't necessarily wrestle them up top.

“Once you've got them on the ground, the power game comes out of it.”

He added: “I would say a word for David Wallace, who is a fabulous player. It's likely to be his last World Cup and I think that's devastating for Wally.”

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