Joe Schmidt – “It Got Quite Physical With Keith Earls.”


Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt says his side were “physically battered” by England yesterday evening in the Six Nations opening round defeat at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

The New Zealander says Ireland’s ball was slow and that they gave England the perfect opportunity to take “pot-shots” in the 30-22 defeat. He also reckons Ireland might have been a little too “honest” in terms of the aerial contest.

Speaking after the game, Schmidt says they weren’t surprised by the physicality that England brought, but bemoaned Ireland’s response to it.

“I think we were physically bettered,” said Schmidt.

“I don’t think I’ve seen a game where our opponents got so many physical, dominant tackles. Where our opponents have carried physically in the manner that they did.”

“It wasn’t a surprise to us, we knew that power that they bring to the game. To contain those guys is difficult.”

“Our ball was slow, it gives them an opportunity to take pot-shots and they took those shots well.”

“When that happens you’re forced to go to the air because it’s the only way you can progress and we couldn’t really get into the aerial battle. There were a lot of white jerseys in front of any aerial contest. Maybe we were too honest there. They got great access to the aerial contest going the other way.

Winger Keith Earls was forced off at half-time with a hip injury, and Schmidt says England got pretty “physical” with the Limerick man, although he doesn’t think it was “intentional”. Tom Curry was yellow carded for a high tackle on the Munster man, while Maro Itoje was perhaps lucky to escape with just a penalty following a late charge.

“It got quite physical with Keith Earls. I don’t think it was intentional, but it certainly put Keith out of the game and he was our most-experienced back three player in the game.

“It was challenging to cover that space in behind and they played to it really well.”

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