‘It’s never as simple as putting players on and saying, ‘He’ll freshen things up” – Joe Schmidt

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt is hoping to see his squad recover and replenish energy levels after a sapping altitude-assisted defeat to South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.

A downcast-sounding Schmidt called his squad ‘a tired group’ as they settled in to this week’s base in Port Elizabeth and explained that he wouldn’t be calling in a replacement for the injured Robbie Henshaw as the back-line had enough flexibility to adjust around the loss.

In this video of an interview with RTÉ’s Michael Corcoran, the Kiwi also goes through his thought process around the delayed use of replacements in a game when the visitors were clearly flagging due to the testing conditions.

“It’s hard to take anything away from players who are giving it their best effort when they’ve run out of legs,” begins Schmidt, who waited until the 76th minute to unleash his backs from the bench.

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Source: Irish Rugby TV/YouTube

“It’s one of the difficulties with altitude, you can’t contribute as much until you get your second wind. And if you’re only going on with five minutes to go it takes that long to get your second wind.

“Because of the nature of the game, so tight as far as holding the margin was concerned, we felt the players in the rhythm of the game were in the best situation to keep that going. It’s always difficult during the game as opposed to hindsight…

“It’s never as simple as putting players on and saying: ‘he’ll freshen things up’. You’re always looking at the players who are on and the feedback we were getting was that they could keep going.

“Once we got messages that they were starting to fade we tried to work our way through the bench, but they’d earned the lead we had so it’s hard to take them away. Some of the players who did come off when we had a 16-point lead, they’ll look back now and have their own frustrations.”

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