Schmidt: why I axed star man Henderson
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has explained why he will go into tomorrow's Pool D decider against France without Ulster duo Iain Henderson or Jared Payne...and it's with next week's quarter-final in mind.
Henderson has been one of the stars of the World Cup so far and was man-of-the-match last week against Italy but will be replaced for the Millennium Stadium showdown by the almost 7ft tall Devin Toner and his lineout ability.
Schmidt still expects the 23-year-old to make a real statement off the bench while also declaring that he will now be fresh for a quarter-final against either Argentina or New Zealand next weekend.
"Iain will add value and, again, it is a case of making sure that we have a few things covered for next week as well," he said yesterday at Celtic Manor.
"We are qualified and we are very keen to qualify at the top of the pool and, at the same time, knowing the reality that regardless of where you finish in the pool, there is a game next week against a side that is incredibly capable.
"It was another really tight call."
Jared Payne was expected to recover from a bruised foot that kept him out last week but Schmidt felt it was important not to risk the injury flaring up ahead of the knockouts
"Jared got through training on Wednesday and trained very well but if we put him back into the game on Sunday it could aggravate the foot," added the coach.
"We felt it was prudent to leave Jared for another week. With the type of the game that is (the quarter-final), we want to have a fully-fit squad for that."
Ulster's Rory Best and Tommy Bowe both start while Chris Henry joins Henderson on the bench with the losers set to face the All Blacks back in Cardiff next Saturday.