What did Joe Schmidt learn from Ireland's victory over Canada?
Gavin Cummiskey and Eddie O'Sullivan spoke to Off The Ball on Monday night21:01 Monday 14 November 2016, 21:01 14 Nov 2016
Joe Schmidt made 15 changes for Ireland's victory over Canada at the Aviva Stadium, exploring different combinations and assessing how second string players are developing.
Ireland triumphed by 31 points in front of a packed crowd and made it consecutive victories in their November Test Series, following their historic win over the All-Blacks.
Speaking on Monday night's Off The Ball, Gavin Cummiskey and Eddie O'Sullivan gave their thoughts on an experimental Irish side.
"The only major debate I feel after the game, and we pressed Joe Schmidt on it, is the back row. Josh van der Flier didn't play so the indication there is that [he may stay] in the Irish squad," Cummiskey said.
"Jordi Murphy is gone, which means there is only one position left. That means Peter O'Mahony or Sean O'Brien don't get back in the Ireland squad for this game when they are both ready. O'Brien didn't have a vintage game but he never plays well against those kinds of teams. He does well against the big teams so it looks like he's priming himself.
"Peter O'Mahony is further down the track and he said himself 'I hope I've done enough'. I think he did. O'Mahony showed a lot but as far as balance goes, I think if O'Brien is up to the standard, fitness and conditioning, then I think he has to be in the team. But it's a huge decision."
Sean O'Brien may have earned a a starting spot against the All-Blacks with his performance agaisnt Canada. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland
Eddie O'Sullivan echoed these sentiments and looking ahead to the second clash with the All-Blacks coming up this weekend, he insists it is imperative to stay "within a score" of Steve Hansen's side.
"I don't think we have to beat them on the weekend, to be honest with you. If we beat them, for me, it would be phenomenal result on the basis that this is as tough as it gets. Beating them once is phenomenal, but if we can beat them twice in two weeks, that would be off the chart.
"So if they show up and really put their foot on the gas and play like we know that can play, how close can we stay to them? Now if we do stay close to them and it's a one score game with 10 minutes to go then anything can happen.
"That's the key for us and it's always the key against them. You've got to stay within a score of them more or less. Because once it goes for one score or two scores, then they can really cut loose. You can see the carnage that they can inflict within 11 minutes.
"They want to have a purple patch but will say 'instead of having it for 11 minutes, let's have it for 40 minutes'. That's the biggest challenge for us because they will rip you asunder... The challenge this weekend is colossal."
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