Ireland’s recent poor performances may have come about due to a difference in styles between Joe Schmidt and Stuart Lancaster, according to Brian O’Driscoll.
O’Driscoll was speaking on Off The Ball and pondered whether Lancaster being appointed as Leinster’s senior coach may have upset the balance in the Ireland squad.
“I wonder with Stuart Lancaster coming in and his focus being very different to Joe’s, did that upset the apple cart a little bit?
“Because he was very much about unstructured play rather than Joe’s focus around set-piece.
“Did that cast a few doubts into players' minds of what way they needed to train and what they needed to focus on? I wonder did that dynamic change things a little bit,” O’Driscoll commented.
While the IRFU may have intended on the four provinces playing a similar style of rugby so the transition to the national team would be smooth, O’Driscoll feels this may not have been the case in Leinster.
“You can’t stop a coach’s personal beliefs on how the game should be played. When you hear the Leinster players talk under Leo Cullen and Stuart Lancaster - everything is about unstructured chaos.
“The launch plays are used to get into that unstructured play and that’s the vast majority of the game. Whereas Joe has been very much a set-piece orientated guy. Nearly 50% of Ireland’s scores originate from lineouts.
“Whereas conversely you look at the All Blacks and they score almost 40% of their tries from turnover ball. Teams were able to identify that was our source of success, O’Driscoll said.
Unprecedented success with Schmidt
The former Ireland and Leinster centre did also point out how much success Schmidt has brought to these shores, saying the players had little reason to doubt him.
“The reality is we’ve absolutely exceeded all expectations of any previous Irish team. I think it’s important to state that.
“Joe came in at Leinster and he won back to back titles and the league and the Challenge Cup.
“Then he came into Ireland and he won back to back Six Nations. We won for the first time in South Africa, beat Australia on a touring series, beat the All Blacks twice and won the Grand Slam.
“This was unprecedented success... I guess if I was a player I would have put a huge amount of my trust into him being able to turn that around,” O’Driscoll said.
Ireland will look to quickly return to that level of success after what has been another massively disappointing World Cup campaign.
That is the first main task for new head coach Andy Farrell and he’ll be eager to get off on the right foot against Scotland in next year’s Six Nations.
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