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Six Nations: Ireland coach Joe Schmidt backs flankers to fill Sean O'Brien void

Last Updated: 07/02/14 9:42am

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Joe Schmidt: Ireland boss expects fierce contest at the breakdown against Wales

Joe Schmidt: Ireland boss expects fierce contest at the breakdown against Wales

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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is confident his back row's joint efforts can again compensate for the absence of injured Lions flanker Sean O'Brien.

The dynamic openside is unlikely to play again this season after shoulder surgery but without him the Irish romped to a 28-6 win over Scotland in their opening Six Nations fixture at the Aviva Stadium.

Schmidt accepts losing O'Brien deprives his team of an extra ball-carrying dimension but believes replacement Chris Henry and fellow back-row forwards Jamie Heaslip and Peter O'Mahony can cause reigning champions Wales some problems in Dublin on Saturday.

"We certainly miss Sean," Schmidt said. "But the one thing I would say, I thought Peter O'Mahony, Chris Henry and Jamie Heaslip all chipped in and added a little bit of value that covered for Sean last week in the win against Scotland.

"Chris carried well, and Peter, he might not have made too many carries, but he was absolutely superb."


Against breakdown specialists Sam Warburton and Dan Lydiate, Schmidt knows Ireland must be more accurate than ever before over the tackle.

The Kiwi is also well aware that discipline will need to be maintained to avoid allowing pinpoint goal-kicker Leigh Halfpenny any opportunities to move the scoreboard on in Wales' favour.

"You're very conscious of him," said Schmidt. "You're very conscious of conceding penalties in your own half too, though, because Rhys Priestland has a nice kicking game.

"The one thing I would say is that our discipline, over the four games we've played so far, has probably been better than anyone. We'd hope that would continue.

"It's something we are working incredibly hard on, even in training. If we see anyone that is off their feet or a half an inch offside, we are trying to pull them up straight away and keep that message coming in so we concede as few penalties as possible."

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