Ireland Boss Joe Schmidt – “I’ve Never Been A Rival To Him”
Joe Schmidt says Warren Gatland is probably “more outspoken” than he is, but has played down reports that the two head coaches have an ongoing rivalry.
Former Ireland international Luke Fitzgerald earlier this week said Gatland is the only coach that “gets under Schmidt’s skin”, but the Ireland boss say they’ve never had to rival each other in terms of potential coaches openings.
“I’ve never been a rival to him for the Lions or New Zealand jobs,” Schmidt said
“But I’ve been a rival on the pitch, playing against Waikato when he was playing for Waikato and I was playing for Manawatu. I’ve played with him in a schools selection. I’ve played a fair bit with his brother-in-law Clifton Shaw, Trudi’s brother.”
“So I’ve gotten to know him over the years and we’d have a pretty friendly relationship.
“You know, he’s probably more outspoken than I am. That doesn’t worry me really.
“He would probably engage in a bit more pre-match banter than I would, and again that’s his domain.”
Gatland is well known for his mind games with opposition coaches but Schmidt insists it doesn’t really “impact” him or Ireland.
“He’s been with Wales twice as long as I’ve been with Ireland. I think you earn that opportunity.” Schmidt added
“He certainly is the longest-serving head coach in world rugby because Steve Hansen’s done eight years. He’s earned that opportunity to be a bit more outspoken.
“Internally, we drive our own agenda and we drive our own motivation. It doesn’t really impact too much on us.”