Schmidt Launches Staunch Defence Of 2 Players Who Have Been Slated Throughout Six Nations

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Joe Schmidt has defended his decision to leave both Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton on until the last 10 minutes against Wales, despite the halfback pairing having one of their worst games together in an Irish jersey.

Both Murray and Sexton have failed to find the kind of form that saw them heralded as the best halfback pairing in the world last year, with many fans disillusioned at the fact that they weren’t replaced sooner in Cardiff yesterday.

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But Schmidt says it’s “important to invest in people” and hopes this will pay dividend come end of the season. He says top players need “pressure-cooker situations” to help them come out better on the other side.

We’re trying to build those two guys forward. They haven’t had a huge amount of game time so I think it’s important to invest in people.” Schmidt said

“That was part of the remit we decided we were going to prioritise in this Six Nations. Whether it bears fruit at the other end of this season, we’ll see.

“But I don’t get into prognostics, all I do is try to get into preparation. The best preparation for top-class players is to be in pressure-cooker situations and to work their way through them.

“If, every time that isn’t going well, you take them off, I don’t think you’re growing them back to where they need to be.

“They’ve had so many days in the team where they’ve been the hub upon which the wheel has turned and the wheel has generally gone forward. Over the last two years, we’ve played 26 Test and lost three of them.