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Schmidt playing down Cotter link

Ireland boss Joe Schmidt believes his first Test clash with friend, mentor and former colleague Vern Cotter will not "colour" Saturday's RBS 6 Nations finale in Scotland.

Schmidt admitted in the build-up to last weekend's trip to Wales that he could attempt to "second-guess" former Bay of Plenty and Clermont coaching partner Cotter in Ireland's Six Nations closer against Scotland.

The former Leinster coach conceded he may exploit his history with Cotter against Scotland, in a bid to explain why he would not try to over-analyse Wales boss Warren Gatland - another fellow Kiwi, but one he does not know half as well.

Ireland surrendered their Grand Slam hopes with 23-16 defeat to Wales in Cardiff, but could yet retain their Six Nations title on points-difference with a hefty win at Murrayfield.

After last week hinting he could play on his inside knowledge of Scotland's head coach Cotter, now former schoolteacher Schmidt claims he will do no such thing.

"It doesn't really colour it at all," said Schmidt of how his relationship with Cotter could affect Saturday's pivotal Edinburgh clash.

"I think the two colours are definitely green and blue, and they will clash.

"I think for VC (Cotter) and myself, I owe a fair bit to VC, I learnt a lot from coaching with him, and I know that he knows me very, very well.

"And I've no doubt he's got a few things cooked up that will make life difficult for us and he's got players who are very capable of doing that."

Asked if he would respond in kind to the notion Cotter would have a few tricks up his sleeve, Schmidt said: "Not on a fine day like this, no sleeves required.

"It's a great day here, so the forecast on all three venues is very positive.

"So I think what you will see is a fair bit of rugby played.

"I know there's been a lot written about the way we play the game, but as I said last week I think we've made probably 150 passes more than any other team in the competition.

"I think we do roll our sleeves up and play a fair bit of rugby, and Scotland will be keen to do the same thing.

"So hopefully that's something that the spectators enjoy, and hopefully we can enjoy the aftermath."

Ireland, England and Wales can all still claim Six Nations glory, with Gatland's Welsh side starting the day by taking on Italy in Rome.

Schmidt's men square up to Scotland in Saturday's middle slot, before England close the triple-bill by hosting France at Twickenham.

Ireland could find themselves biting their fingernails through England's clash should they gain that handsome victory over Scotland that they so crave.

Former Auckland Blues assistant coach Schmidt insisted he has no gripes about the Six Nations' staggered scheduling that could tee up another agonising wait for teams to learn their silverware fate.

"I just think it's going to be a heck of a Saturday, there's going to be interest in three games and that's fantastic for the championship," said Schmidt.

"For some people you couldn't have written a better script, obviously it's not the script we wanted to engage in and we've just got to make sure that we try to write a positive end note for ourselves and hope that that's good enough."


From Belfast Telegraph