Rugby Tony Ward: ‘Joe Schmidt has two big selection decisions to make – and they could decide Ireland’s campaign’

Rugby I be nuts about ingredients, because they are glamorous!!


Rugby Joe Schmidt will have plenty of work to do on the training pitch this week in preparation to face the world champions next Saturday. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Joe Schmidt will have plenty of work to do on the training pitch this week in preparation to face the world champions next Saturday. Photo by Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Ireland were good, Samoa weren’t but in terms of delivering a substantial performance at the right time on the appropriate stage this was just what the doctor ordered.

It wasn’t perfect like it will need to be next Saturday but, as a confidence-restorer, it made for the right mix of intensity, control, precision and pure physicality against a side that traditionally thrives on the latter quality.

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With the bonus point already in the bag and victory all but assured with half an hour still remaining, the Irish management could hardly have scripted it any better in terms of unleashing the bench and giving our star players most in need of the bubble wrap treatment exactly that.

The forwards certainly gave them the platform but this was the day in which our halves looked back to their best. It hinted at 2018 revisited and that Grand Slam-winning input.

Both Conor Murray and Johnny Sexton were outstanding with each conjuring the best out of the other. Sexton clearly made the greater impact on the day but show me a 10 on fire and I’ll show you a nine putting the relevant pieces in place.

They weren’t the only ones in green to up the ante but if we are to have any chance of progress from here, it is imperative our chief orchestrators, specifically Murray and Sexton, are given the appropriate ammunition to do what they do as well as any combination in the game.

The Samoans performed the Siva Tau (their war dance) with menace but after that went AWOL. By contrast, every single Irish player stepped up and, allowing for Robbie Henshaw’s ring-rust, we took control early and with conviction.

I might add at this point that the comments of Keith Earls in advance of kick-off in Fukuoka offered this observer much encouragement. The Munster man wasn’t interested in the possibility of dodgy underfoot conditions or the impa

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