Best not guaranteed the World Cup captaincy, admits Schmidt
Joe Schmidt yesterday said a decision on who will lead Ireland to the World Cup in Japan has yet to be finalised amid criticism of incumbent captain Rory Best in the wake of his side's record 57-15 loss in Twickenham.
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The skipper was due to attend a commercial engagement this morning, but is instead being pressed into action against Wales on Saturday after a poor performance last weekend.
In the wake of that loss, Schmidt changed his schedule and fronted yesterday's press conference at Carton House.
And, while he said the captaincy is not currently up for discussion, he refused to rule out a change when his squad is finalised after this weekend's game.
He gave his most positive bulletin on Joey Carbery's ankle injury yet, predicting that the Munster out-half will be available for the Scotland game, if not before, while he refuted reports that Johnny Sexton picked up an injury last week and said the out-half could feature in Cardiff.
The biggest fallout from Twickenham centres around the captain, however, after Best was involved in a line-out meltdown. At 37, there are question marks over the Ulsterman's captaincy. Schmidt is standing by his man, for now.
"If there is external noise of that nature then there is no internal noise of that nature," Schmidt said. "For Rory, it is that internal noise that is most relevant as that is where the decisions are going to be made, and at this stage there are no decisions that have been made.
"Guys are going to get an opportunity this weekend and if they perform better than any player who played last weekend then there is always a contest.
"No roles have been finalised for the World Cup until we name our 31 later on next week so no one takes anything for granted."