Mike Ross welcomes Joe Schmidt’s contract extension
As he continues his preparation for the Rugby World Cup, Leinster and Ireland prop Mike Ross was delighted to hear that Joe Schmidt has extended his contract as international head coach until 2017.
Speaking in Life Style Sports on Dublin’s Grafton Street yesterday morning, Ross felt that the news would be warmly received amongst the Irish squad, and he was quick to praise the New Zealander’s ability to keep players on their toes at all times.
“I think they’re quite happy. I mean, the results speak for themselves. And if we can keep that trend going then we’ll be a fairly happy group going forward. He’s an excellent coach and his methods bring results,” Ross remarked.
“You always have to be on your toes. If you don’t know your detail that’s the one unforgivable sin. Everyone has to be clued in and switched on and know exactly what they’re doing.”
Although Schmidt’s contract extension is a timely boost ahead of the World Cup, there was never a worry in the camp that the IRFU would be unable to retain his services. Indeed, if the former Leinster supremo was to leave his post at the end of his current deal, the Cork native believes that it would leave more than enough time for a new coach to come into the fold.
“Probably not [a worry amongst players]. I mean, the only job I could imagine that would have tempted him would have been his home country. I’d say he’s well established here and results have been going very well and I think he’s quite happy where he is right now.
“I think that he’ll back himself to get another contract without any issues If it’s the middle of a World Cup cycle and he decides to go, then that gives you time to get a coach in before the next World Cup.”
With a World Cup and two Six Nations campaigns to come before Schmidt’s new contract expires, it is far too early to speculate who may be in charge of the team for 2018 and beyond.
It is a completely different scenario for Ross and his team-mates at provincial level, however, as Leinster have yet to appoint a permanent replacement for Matt O’Connor, who was released from his position of head coach by the Blues at the end of last season.
Leo Cullen has taken over this role on an interim basis, and Ross has been impressed with the way the former second-row has applied himself under difficult circumstances.
“I think he’s adapted reasonably well. He’s doing it sooner than he would have liked. At the same time, we back him 100% to deliver. He’s got a focus on raising standards all across the board and making sure we’re going back to what was required to win the Champions Cup and win the Guinness PRO12.”
With the 2015/16 Pro12 season getting underway on September 4 (and a brace of pre-season friendlies taking place in August), it is becoming increasingly likely that Cullen will be made head coach of Leinster for the upcoming campaign at least.
If this was to happen, Ross is adamant that it would be well-received by everyone within the Blues’ set-up, but he also knows that their strong coaching structure would be able to offer Cullen plenty of guidance.
“If he got it I don’t think there would be any complaints. It’s probably a bit earlier than even he would have expected.”