Schmidt laments 'malaise' in Irish team after England rout
Twickenham (United Kingdom) (AFP)
A shocked Joe Schmidt said there was a malaise about his Ireland team that was routed 57-15 by England in their Rugby World Cup warm-up Test on Saturday.
The 53-year-old New Zealander had been hoping to be celebrating the Irish getting to number one in the world rankings for the first time if they had beaten the English.
However, instead he looked on in horror as his side -- who were almost at full-strength -- conceded eight tries with the hosts recording both their highest points total and the largest winning margin against them.
He said his side -- who last year won the Six Nations Grand Slam and beat world champions New Zealand -- had looked "dishevelled".
"There's a malaise about the team, but you can't blame individuals," he said.
Schmidt who will step down after the World Cup said he had expected the players to be a bit "heavy-legged".
"It hurts right now," he said.
Schmidt, who said prop Cian Healy avoid any extensive damage despite a sprained ankle, faces a double header with Wales prior to jetting off to Japan.
Wales comprehensively out-played the Irish when they sealed the Grand Slam in Cardiff earlier this year.
"It will be Gatts' (Wales coach Warren Gatland) last match there," he said.
"It will be a bit of cauldron for us to step into and a big challenge for the players to turn things round."
Schmidt said there had been a "litany of uncharacteristic errors" and there would be changes for the Wales match although he did not say if World Player of the Year Johnny Sexton would be one of them.
Schmidt has had to keep Sexton on the sidelines after second choice fly-half Joey Carbery injured an ankle in the win over Italy a fortnight ago and gave Ross Byrne the starter's jersey for Saturday's game.
"James Ryan (lock), (back row forward) Jack Conan there are a few guys who could come into the picture next week," said Schmidt.
"They can bring a bit of energy that we were lacking today.
"(Wing) Keith Earls those sorts of guys we still feel will add some value."
- 'He will be a handful' -
Schmidt said other results in the warm-up matches had shown things could be turned on their head after suffering heavy defeats in the previous match.
"If you look at Wales against England in their first match (Wales lost 33-19 and a week later beat England 13-6) then they turned it round and the Scots this time round against France (Scotland beat the French 17-14 a week after losing 32-3) you do get a bit of that.
"However, it does not happen automatically."
His England counterpart Eddie Jones praised his players for their "intensity and purpose" and said he was pleased with the whole squad.
The standout player, though, was Manu Tuilagi, who provoked panic in the Irish defence for the first two tries and then scored one himself.
Jones warned Tuilagi would be even better come their first game in Japan.
"He (Tuilagi) is in a good place, he has a smile on his face makes coffee for everyone except me, I should get my order in earlier," said a grinning Jones.
"He is 80% fit and when he gets 100% fit he will be a handful.
"His great attribute is everyone likes to play with him."
© 2019 AFP