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Ireland paid for Joe Schmidt's rigid style in World Cup exit, says Nacewa

 

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Isa Nacewa was the man who recommended Joe Schmidt to Leinster and the duo enjoyed great success together during the province's golden era.

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The former club captain has shown his knowledge of his old coach's game-plan in calling Schmidt's plays as they happen in his work as an analyst on New Zealand television during this World Cup.

So, his frank and damning assessment of Ireland's performance against New Zealand and their overall decline in 2019 is all the more interesting given his knowledge of the way Schmidt works and the players involved.

Nacewa believes a combination of injury, a loss of confidence and a return to a more conservative style were the factors behind Ireland's decline.

"I definitely think it did," he said when asked if Ireland's reliance on structure become a weakness.

"In the 2017/18 season, once Leinster started playing an attacking brand of rugby and the majority of the Ireland squad was Leinster based, they let a little bit of that Leinster flair infiltrate the Ireland camp.

"That came into Ireland camp in training and in the Six Nations, and they were throwing offloads, there was continuity to their play.

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"That got them all the way to the top of the world and an unbeaten year with all the trophies.

"Post that, I hear they went away from that and went back to the conservative approach, and that's just shone through the whole World Cup and 2019."

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