Ireland coach ignores England jibes
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt is ignoring the "banter" coming from the England camp ahead of Saturday's clash in Dublin.
Ireland host England in their Six Nations opener on Saturday as Schmidt's men seek back-to-back Grand Slam successes.
England assistant John Mitchell has claimed Ireland's game plan may be an attempt to "bore" the visitors, but New Zealander Schmidt has played down the significance of his compatriot's comments.
“It’s just people have different approaches. I think it’s incredibly important to respect your opponents, I think it’s incredibly important to acknowledge what abilities they bring to the game," said Schmidt, as reported by The 42.
“I don’t think for a moment it’s going to be boring. I think it’s going to be incredibly exhilarating, it’s going to be edge of the seat because I don’t think there’s going to be a huge amount between the teams. I do think people are going to be entertained.”
England coach Eddie Jones claimed earlier this month that Ireland fly-half Johnny Sexton "has the bat phone to the referee", implying he gets preferential treatment from the officials, but Schmidt says he is simply focusing on the task in hand rather than any pre-match verbal sparring.
He added: “I heard the boring comment, I heard the bat phone comment, I don’t know what else they’ve been saying.
“All I can keep doing is keep my head down, keep trying to find the fine margins and support players the best I can to get them prepared as well as I can.
“It doesn’t distract me because it’s not immediately relevant to what I’m doing.
“I’ve known Mitch a long time, I look forward to meeting him and then the banter can be face-to-face and if there’s something that needs to be said, it can be said, and it will be said with a light-hearted bit of repartee I think."
Gareth Freeman is an experienced journalist who can offer in-depth knowledge on a host of sports, especially football, tennis, snooker and basketball.