'If you get something wrong under Joe Schmidt you're getting screamed at' 1 week ago

'If you get something wrong under Joe Schmidt you're getting screamed at'

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is a seasoned professional.

He's smart, he's articulate, he has a sense of humour and it often looks like butter wouldn't melt in his mouth when he's speaking at press conferences in the Aviva Stadium or out at Carton House.

The training ground Schmidt has been described as a very different character. Renowned for his short, sharp training sessions, Schmidt often gets a lot of his best work done during training but if you make a mistake you can be assured that you'll hear about it.

"It's unpleasant to be coached by him because he's getting the best out of you," Andrew Trimble said on House of Rugby.

"I don't think the press would see that. They'd see this nice man in press conferences, just always saying the right thing, and he's so good at it, he's so good at it, it's a real skill, and he nails it every time.

"[It's] Unbelievably tough [playing under him]. It's very tough for the right reasons because, me personally, I became a way better player under Joe Schmidt because he puts you under so much pressure.

"Brian O'Driscoll recounted this story about this really simple warm-up drill that we'd do before sessions. 1-2-3-4 drill. It sounds more simple than it is. But the intensity that that's done at, and if you get something wrong, you're getting screamed at.

"The pace, one group is going into the next group, and you have to just concentrate so hard. It takes a lot out of you. We were saying. 'if you think a test match is tough... 'Do the 1-2-3-4 drill'.

Ronan O'Gara, who toured with Joe Schmidt on Ireland's tour of Japan and the US last year, said it was fascinating to work in the same environment as the New Zealander and that his attention to detail is unparalleled.

"Joe was fantastic," he said. "Every player that was in camp, he had made a personal video for them. A work-on video or his 'moments' video as he called them - looking on things that they had done well."

Not only do the conversation-starting videos focus on what each player needs to do for Ireland, it gives them pointers on how they can improve as a player  - individually and with the team in mind.

"Sometimes as players," he says, "and we are all guilty of this, you think 'Oh, I'm great at that' and you look at the video and go 'Ooooh, maybe that's not as good as I think it is."

 

O'Gara confesses there was an element of depression that kicked in when his time with the squad was coming to an end - with the coaches and players heading off to Japan and himself heading back for a well-earned summer holiday.

"It was weird. I felt like I was being dropped... The competitor [I have] inside me and the atmosphere he creates; the pressure to perform.

"I wasn't doing that much coaching. I was watching him and doing a lot of work with the assistant coaches. I chatted to him and did a good bit of work with Joe but he's so thorough. He has an answer to everything. 

"You might suggest something and you get put in your place pretty quickly - 'Yeah, yeah ROG'.

"It was just... if you are a competitor, it is such a great environment. Your capacity to grow and be challenged is something I've never seen."

O'Gara said he would have loved to have been a No.10 in a Joe Schmidt team and revealed how the Kiwi - contrary to many reports - does encourage his players to be expansive and back themselves if they spy an opening.

However, you wouldn't want to be the first man to drop a pass or make a notable mistake in training. O'Gara said:

"The intensity of training is so fascinating and it was a buzz to be involved in... but once the first ball goes down, there's a bit of panic that sets in and that's where Joe comes into his own. He wants to create those really hard training conditions.

"You could see the guys that aren't that used to pressure folding up a bit. It was just fascinating psychologically."