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Updated Sun 12:08 PM
Murray Kinsella reports from Cardiff
WHILE JOE SCHMIDT’S moods in media dealings after games can be hard to predict or analyse at times, the Ireland head coach cut a clearly downcast figure on Saturday evening following his team’s 22-17 victory over Wales.
While an improved performance in Cardiff as Ireland bounced back from their hammering against England was encouraging for Schmidt, he now faces into the hardest part of the job.
Schmidt with Warren Gatland before his team’s win in Cardiff.
Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO
Letting players they haven’t made matchday 23s and wider squads is difficult at any time, but calling someone to tell them they won’t be going to the World Cup – unless injuries mean a late call-up – is on another level.
The win in Cardiff might have sealed a few last decisions for Schmidt and his coaches, clearing a couple of headaches in that sense, but informing players of those final calls is not a pleasant experience.
“I think it’s a horrible couple of days, it’s probably the worst couple of days I’ve had in coaching, this time four years ago,” said Schmidt at Principality Stadium yesterday.
“I know how hard these players are working and how hard they’ve worked over a number of years because this is the pinnacle, this is what they’ve wanted to go after, this is what we talked about last Christmas as being very much the sole focus of the year.
“And for those players who miss out, it’s going to be a real body blow, and I’m incredibly conscious of that and I sympathise with it.
“But you can only take 31 and that’s the brutality of it.”
While there are certainties to travel in Schmidt’s current 40-man squad, there are many who will be on tenterhooks over the next 24 hours or so, anxiously checking th
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