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New Zealand Journalist Is All For Joe Schmidt But A Lot Less Keen On His Team

Gary Reilly
By Gary Reilly Updated

New Zealand rugby journalist Mark Reason has written an op-ed for stuff.co.nz with the overall idea of extolling the virtues of Joe Schmidt, who he feels should have been named IRB Coach of the Year as opposed to Steve Hansen. No arguments here, Reason's rationale for that is that both teams only lost one game all year yet Ireland did so with less playing resources and less natural ability than New Zealand. Again, all fine.

The IRB has done some peculiar things in its time, but lauding Steve Hansen as coach of the year was perhaps among the oddest.

When you compare how much progress the All Blacks have made over the previous 12 months with the staggering advances of Ireland, then acknowledging Joe Schmidt's work should have been a no-brainer.

Reason then goes a bit deeper into what he believes is the extent of Schmidt's achievements, which is where things become somewhat less complimentary, for Ireland at least.

Consider the facts. How many Irishmen do you think would get into the current All Blacks team? Maybe Rory Best, Paul O'Connell, Jonny Sexton and Tommy Bowe. That is very, very generous. I would pick only Bowe and Best - and not one green man would make it on to the All Blacks bench.

We've been trying to get our head around that statement for quite some time. Perhaps the meaning has been lost in the edit but it seems to suggest that Rory Best and Tommy Bowe would start for New Zealand, while O'Connell and Sexton would be considered but eventually wouldn't even make the bench.

If we're correct with that reading that would mean that he believes Rory Best is better than Keven Mealamu and Dane Coles (perhaps he is) but that Johnny Sexton isn't as good as Aaron Crudden or perhaps even Beauden Barrett. That's despite the fact that Sexton was just nominated among the five best players in the world.

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Reason continues by pointing at Ireland's admittedly problematic midfield, which is fair enough, but then suggests that we're holding a starting position open for Bundee Aki who won't even be eligible for Ireland for three more years, and that's not even considering the fact that he has only played one game for Connacht.

In 2014 Ireland lost one match, by three points to England at Twickenham. They should have won, they were tactically superior, but Sexton had a bad day. This is not a golden era of Ireland rugby. Brian O'Driscoll has gone. The midfield is so ordinary that a New Zealand cast-off like Bundee Aki is assumed to be a walk-in.

And just to top it off, there's this.

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Yet Ireland's record in 2014 compares to New Zealand's. That is the coaching achievement of the year. Finally a man is raising the pitiful skill level of the northern hemisphere and that man is Joe Schmidt.

Now obviously we are as much in awe of Joe as the next person but to suggest that he is the only man to ever bring northern hemisphere rugby within a sniff of the tri-nations is going a bit far. All in all the entire point of the article is that New Zealand shouldn't be rushing to offer Hansen a new contract. Now, can anyone guess who Reason would like to see instead?

See also: Joe Schmidt Reached Outside The English Language To Describe Paul O’Connell

See also: Andrew Trimble Drops An Interesting Hint About Joe Schmidt’s Training Sessions

See also: Joe Schmidt’s Guide To Conducting An Unflappable Interview Hours Before Major Surgery

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