Schmidt plays down Ireland Six Nations title talk

Schmidt plays down Ireland Six Nations title talk
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says Scotland will pose multiple threats to his team on Saturday
Six Nations: Ireland v Scotland
Venue: Aviva Stadium, Dublin Date: Saturday, 10 March Kick-off: 14:15 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra, BBC Radio Ulster, BBC Radio Scotland & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

Ireland could be crowned Six Nations champions on Saturday but coach Joe Schmidt does not like to think about that.

An Ireland win against Scotland at the Aviva Stadium would leave England needing to at least match that result when they face France in Paris later in the day.

The possibility of a third title in five years and the championship wrapped up before a potentially tricky visit to Twickenham seems like an enjoyable daydream – but not for Schmidt.

“If you allow yourself to dream it’s not proactive time,” he said.

“It’s a nice time and it would be fantastic but it’s just not productive and it’s even less productive knowing the form Scotland are in and the confidence they bring.”

Schmidt has every reason to be wary of a Scotland side that visit Dublin looking for a first win in Ireland in eight years and seeking to prove to themselves and their critics that they can win on the road.

Aside from Rome, that victory in 2010 is the last time Scotland registered an away victory in the Six Nations.

Gregor Townsend was sitting in the stand at Croke Park that day eight years ago when Dan Parks held his nerve to land a 79th-minute touchline penalty.

Townsend was part of Andy Robinson’s coaching staff then but now he is the man charged with leading the revival of the Scotland side.

The Calcutta Cup success against England in their previous game was the most powerful demonstration to date of the high-tempo, attacking style Townsend first developed as a player and then honed during his time as Glasgow Warriors head coach.

Captain Rory Best says Ireland will not be distracted by talk of a Grand Slam

Townsend ‘incredibly methodical’

Finn Russell, Stuart Hogg and Huw Jones have flourished in the exciting, counter-attacking system employed by Townsend, but Schmidt believes there is nothing spontaneous about what Scotland are doing.

“People think Gregor is a bit of a maverick player and that he’s a high risk-taker,” said Schmidt.

“Gregor is incredibly methodical and very well planned and he knows exactly what he is doing.

“So it would be naive to think that suddenly he’s given everybody this massive licence to do whatever they like. There is a method to any madness that happens.

“I don’t think you can say that ‘this is the package Gregor Townsend brings’ because he is too intelligent to bring a package that’s predictable.

“We’ve got to be prepared for whatever they bring.”

Coach Gregor Townsend’s approach has been bringing the best out of talented Scotland fly-half Finn Russell

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