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Joe Schmidt

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Joe Schmidt "understands frustration" of Irish fans leaving early


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A bitterly disappointed Joe Schmidt conceded that his Irish side were "physically bettered" by Eddie Jones' England.

In the opening game of this year's Six Nations, Ireland went down 32-20 to an English side that Jones described as being "nowhere near our best."

Largely credited with orchestrating the huge swell of Irish support around the national team, Joe Schmidt was forced to consider the unforeseen reality that fans were departing the Aviva Stadium before Saturday evening's game had reached the final whistle.

"That would be unusual," Schmidt said of the Irish fans who departed early.

"I didn't notice it, it wasn't the full focus of my attention at the time.

"It was massively disappointing that we gave up that try to Slade, and I thought the Daly one was one that was disappointing.

"In a game of fine margins, to offer up those tries is frustrating.

"I can understand the frustration of fans, and at that stage the game was gone.

"We weren't going to get back and win it."

Casting an eye over Ireland's faults on a night that saw Joe Schmidt lose his first home tie of the Six Nations since taking the job in 2013, the head coach held little back.

"I don't think I've seen a game that we've played where our opponents have got so many physically dominant tackles," Schmidt noted.

"It wasn't a surprise to us, we knew with the [England] side that was picked, we knew the power that they'd bring to the game.

"To contain those guys is difficult."

Looking at one particular aspect of England's physicality, Schmidt alluded toward Keith Earls; the Munster man who was targeted with some early hits and was forced out of the action at half-time.

"It got quite physical obviously with Keith Earls," Schmidt noted.

"I don't think that was necessarily part of a plan, but it certainly put Keith out of the game, and he was our most experienced back-3 player."

On this question, Schmidt did credit Robbie Henshaw, the surprise choice at full-back, with doing "a pretty good job."

"The volume of running he did, I thought he was as good as he could've been."

Up next for Ireland will be a trip to Murrayfield where they will face a Scotland side that recorded an opening day win against Italy.

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