Joe Schmidt Says Ireland Short On Experience, But The Stats Say Otherwise

Caps, caps everywhere.

Joe Schmidt and his Ireland team head into this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Aviva Stadium, minus the likes of Robbie Henshaw, Iain Henderson, Tadhg Furlong, Garry Ringrose and Sean O’Brien.

Wales meanwhile, are coming in on the other side of the spectrum. As Ireland lose players. Wales gain them. Gatland came into the tournament with a whole host of Test stars missing. Now he’s got almost all of them back.

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But you’d be foolish to think Ireland are short on experience this weekend. And while Joe Schmidt alluded to that today at his press conference:

“We’re short on experience, we’re up against a team welcoming back three Lions. It’s not ideal, but there’s no better place to learn than in that white hot atmosphere”

You’d be even more foolish to think he really feels that way. Joe Schmidt loves attention to detail. He loves stats, analysis and reading into every possible outcome, while simultaneously preparing for them.

Ireland’s XV this weekend has 604 caps in it. Wales’ has just 554. Schmidt is missing some real big names. But by no means has he picked a side lacking “experience.” And he knows it. Stats like that don’t go over Joe Schmidt’s head.

He’s too experienced for that.