Joe Schmidt Discusses Ireland’s Overseas Policy

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If you want to play for Ireland, chances are you need to play your rugby there.

Joe Schmidt has reiterated that if you’re not playing your rugby in Ireland, it’s going to be difficult to consider you for national selection.

Schmidt raised a few eyebrows when he named Munster reserve Ian Keatley on his bench for the weekend as cover for Paddy Jackson.

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The Ulster outhalf starts in place of the injured Johnny Sexton and with Joey Carberry also out injured, Schmidt has gone for Keatley, who has just four Ireland caps, as opposed to calling up 30-cap Ian Madigan for a spot on the bench.

Ian couldn’t train with us last week,” Schmidt told reporters.

“We only trained on the Tuesday and then [on] Thursday, Friday he was preparing to come off the bench for Bordeaux-Begles against Clermont.

“We are incredibly keen to support the provinces.

“If we demonstrate to the players that we are happy to pick players from outside of Ireland then potentially one of the big draw cards for keeping them here will be lifted and players will more likely go overseas.

“One of the things that keeps them here is the player-management [policy] and another thing that keeps them here is that they know they are going to get closer to the top of the queue in the competition to play for the national team.”

Schmidt, however, was not shutting the door on Madigan completely. The New Zealander rates Sexton as only an “outside chance” of being fit to face Italy in nine days’ time. Should he decide to not risk Sexton in Rome and should anything happen to Jackson, Madigan is on call.