WORLD CUP 2015: Joe Schmidt happy England not in Ireland’s pool

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt

Joe Schmidt believes England boast “a nice balance” to their World Cup midfield options, despite question marks still hanging over Stuart Lancaster’s strongest inside-back division.

Ireland boss Schmidt hailed England counterpart Lancaster for balancing power and finesse across his selections at centre and fly-half ahead of the two sides meeting at Twickenham on Saturday.

Fleet-footed Jonathan Joseph has vowed to forge a formidable centre partnership with blunt-force specialist Brad Barritt against Ireland, while Owen Farrell and George Ford are still battling it out for the starting fly-half berth.

Schmidt appeared nonplussed when quizzed on England’s midfield conundrum, claiming by including Sam Burgess and Exeter’s Henry Slade Lancaster has rounded out his squad in style.

“Jonathan Joseph was saying in the week that they will be a really good combination because Barritt’s the direct strongman and he’ll use footwork and acceleration,” said Schmidt.

“I think if you slotted Sam Burgess in there you could say he’s the direct powerhouse and that Joseph still has the footwork.

“Where Joseph’s got the footwork I think Slade’s got class, his ability to distribute. He’s still got a good change-up to carry but he’s got good kicking skills as well, so they can vary up their midfield as they need to.

“I’m just happy they are not in our pool.”