Joe Schmidt is searching for Ireland's successor to Brian O'Driscoll

Ireland head coach looks forward to tour to Argentina

Last Updated: 07/06/14 11:23am

Joe Schmidt has enjoyed a bright start at the helm of the Ireland national team with the most notable highlight being the 2014 Six Nations victory.

Joe Schmidt insists it is essential for Ireland to move swiftly into the new post-O’Driscoll era and hopes their summer trip to Argentina will accelerate the process.

Brian O’Driscoll - the nation’s talisman for more than a decade - bowed out of international rugby as Ireland celebrated their Six Nations triumph in Paris in March.

His departure has left a huge gap in the Irish midfield, which is keenly felt by Schmidt, who coached the centre at Leinster prior to taking over as Ireland head coach.

But the New Zealander is eager to settle on O’Driscoll’s replacement as soon as possible as he looks to back up his debut Six Nations triumph with more success.

“It is the first time in four years that I have not had Brian O’Driscoll available to kind of run the show,” Schmidt told the Rugby Club.

“I think it is fantastic that we have got new blood coming in, at the same time it is disappointing not to have the kind of masterclass that Drico provided.”

Schmidt insisted there are a number of candidates to pick up the vacated No.13 shirt, including Darren Cave, who will wear the jersey in Ireland’s opening Test against the Pumas in Resistencia on Saturday.

The Ireland head coach, though, picked out Tommy Bowe, who will not travel to Argentina as he rests over the summer, as the potential heir to O’Driscoll.


“We have picked three centres and we have also got guys who can move from the outside back in a bit like Keith Earls and Fergus McFadden, who have both played in the midfield,” he said. “So we feel that we have midfield cover.

“Jared Payne is on the radar and for me Tommy Bowe, who is having a rest this summer because of niggly ongoing injuries. He is another guy who could play centre and Luke Fitzgerald is another guy who could play centre.

“So there are a few option and it is about trying to make that decision relatively quickly if we can because we need to get a bit of continuity through the Six Nations and the world beyond.”


For Schmidt the two-Test tour to Argentina, which includes a showdown with the Pumas in Tucuman on June 14, represents the chance to put a host of youngsters through their paces and test their temperament in the hostile atmosphere of international rugby and rugby in Argentina.

“Success for me is getting the opportunity to see young guys train, the new guys train, see how they react in the pressure cooker that Test match rugby is,” he said.

“There are a couple of hostile environments that we are going to end up in and that is going to be an exercise for them. “