Rugby World Cup: Joe Schmidt braced for final cuts for Ireland squad

Rugby World Cup: Joe Schmidt braced for final cuts for Ireland squad

JOE SCHMIDT feels honesty is the best policy as he begins to think about who will be in his final Ireland squad of 31 for the Rugby World Cup.

The Irish head coach will pit his wits once again against Wales and Warren Gatland on Saturday in Dublin before taking time out with his coaching staff to finalise the squad.

However, Schmidt admits it's difficult to tell someone who desperately wants to be a part of the squad can’t, but says that being upfront and honest is the best policy.

Schmidt said: “I know they’ve worked incredibly hard for the last eight, nine weeks, but some of these players have worked incredibly hard for four years since the last World Cup and are desperately keen to be involved. You tell them as honestly as you can, that’s all you can do.

"I really enjoy our environment because it’s a very honest environment, player to coach and coach to player. I just think that’s the only way you can do it. You’d like to meet them face to face, but that’s probably not going to be practical.

“It’s probably going to be phone calls and, as a coach, it’s probably the least desirable part of my job.”

Schmidt insists the team he has picked for the Wales match, which will also be captain Paul O'Connell's last at the Aviva Stadium, has no bearing on his final selection, with a lot of players being tested to see how deep the squad quality runs.

One player is Leinster star Luke Fitzgerald, who starts at 13 this weekend, with the Ireland boss admitting that he wants to cover his bases in case of injury.

"Luke’s played 13 before, he came on as a replacement at 13 a few years ago in the All Blacks match,” he said. “I guess it’s just making sure that we’ve got some coverage in different positions."

Ireland XV vs Wales: 

Rob Kearney; Dave Kearney, Luke Fitzgerald, Robbie Henshaw, Keith Earls; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jack McGrath, Richardt Strauss, Nathan White; Iain Henderson, Paul O'Connell (captain), Peter O'Mahony, Jordi Murphy, Jamie Heaslip.
Sean Cronin, David Kilcoyne, Tadhg Furlong, Donnacha Ryan, Sean O'Brien, Eoin Reddan, Paddy Jackson, Felix Jones.