Johnny Sexton On Joe Schmidt’s Playbook & How He Prepares Ireland


Every little detail.

I must have watched CJ Stander’s try against England on Saturday a hundred times at this stage, and I’m still in complete awe of it.

The starter play that produced Ireland’s crucial second try is an insight into the genius of head coach Joe Schmidt and the incredibly detailed functioning of his mind.

Time and time again we talk about Joe and his quite incredible attention to detail. And when it bears fruit, it’s a joy to behold. Just like it was on Saturday.

“We played the identical move against England three years ago in Dublin and Robbie Henshaw went through and fell over,” said Schmidt after the game.

“He got ankle-tapped and Billy Vunipola managed to drag him down.

“They’re the only two times we’ve played it. Just the way they come up defensively, we felt it would potentially work again and the way they place their forwards. Sometimes that works and sometimes it doesn’t.

“Sometimes you get double jeopardy. You think ‘they might do this, so we might to that.’ Then they think, we think… I give up then.”

But what is it like to work with Schmidt’s playbook and how does he prepare Ireland during Test weeks? Johnny Sexton was was asked that question following Saturday’s win, and here’s what he said:

“He keeps you on your toes. Ha, how do I put this nicely? 

At times during the week you are driven demented with him, but you know he is doing it for a reason – putting pressure on you in training, at meetings to make sure on Saturday every box is ticked, to make sure all the prep is done.

He is an incredible coach, his record with Irish teams speaks for itself. He was three years with Leinster and got to six finals.

Five years with Ireland and we have won three championships, a Grand Slam. The World Cup obviously didn’t go to plan but there are lots of reasons why that didn’t go to plan. Hopefully we can have a good crack at the next one.”

A fascinating insight into one of rugby’s greatest minds.

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