Joe Schmidt returns to New Zealand due to family bereavement

IRELAND HEAD COACH Joe Schmidt has travelled to New Zealand after a family bereavement.

The 53-year-old intends to return to the team base in Carton House before the end of the week.

In his absence, Andy Farrell has taken charge of training as Ireland gear up for their first Rugby World Cup warm-up match against Conor O’Shea’s Italy in Dublin [KO 2pm, RTÉ 2].

Schmidt has returned to New Zealand. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

“Unfortunately, Joe had to go back to New Zealand due to a family bereavement,” scrum coach Greg Feek explained this afternoon.

“On behalf of the team, I’d like to pass on our condolences to Joe and his wider family.”

Farrell, along with Feek, Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy, has overseen Ireland’s first two sessions of the week at Carton House, as the squad come off the back of an intense six-week pre-season block.

“Joe has things in place and that includes the management, particularly the coaches and the players know their roles,” Feek added.

“It has been quite seamless in that sense and we all know Joe is on the computer keeping an eye on things as well. That’s the environment we’re in, we’ve got to keep going and prepare for a really important Test match this week.

“Andy has taken the reins and has been doing quite a good job, to be fair to him.”

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Following the release of Ultan Dillane and Rory Scannell back to Connacht and Munster respectively, Ireland’s extended World Cup squad is down to 43 players ahead of their warm-up schedule.

Feek added that management have a full complement to select from this weekend.

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