NZ Coach Recalls Incredible Joe Schmidt Story That Speaks Volumes About Him


Joe Schmidt is arguably one of the best coaches the world of rugby has ever seen. He is a truly brilliant mind, and has shown he can get the absolute best out of players no matter what age they are.

He prides himself on meticulous detail and expects his players to take the onus upon themselves to improve aspects of their game that are lacking. His Monday review sessions are said to be the stuff of nightmares.

Schmidt will find your weaknesses, but it’s your job to do extra sessions to work on them. And it appears Schmidt practiced as a player what he now preaches as a coach.

In an excellent piece on Stuff, All Blacks star Mark Donaldson, who coached Schmidt at Manawatu, recalls how he was set to drop the now Ireland coach from his squad, until he blew him away with his transformation.

“I just thought he was way too light,” Donaldson said, with Schmidt only 68kg at the time.

“He was little. I remember I sort of laughed at him and said ‘Look mate, you are really doing well to do what you do in club footy but you just won’t make my cut’,”

“(But) he showed his attitude and I really came to admire him. He went away to the gym – and no one was going to the gym in those days – and he put on about 11 or 12kg (around 2 stone). He came back the next season in a totally different bloke. 

“He gave me a slap in the face with what he achieved in the gym without losing his guile or speed and changing who he was.”

“He was still bloody small but he caught my attention because he said ‘Right, you have put up a barrier, I have gone through it and this is what I have done’. That probably is the sort of insight as to why he is so resilient and resourceful as a coach.”

In the end it was an achilles injury that ended Schmidt’s playing career before he embarked on a career in coaching.

Incredible story about a truly remarkable man and coach.

Follow Me