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Maybe a leprechaun tackled him! - Jones' Heaslip remark shot down by Schmidt

By Tom Webber
Jamie Heaslip in action for Ireland

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England head coach Eddie Jones joked that Jamie Heaslip was pulled from the Ireland line-up for their Six Nations clash after being “tackled by a leprechaun” in the warm-up, but Joe Schmidt was not impressed.

A pre-game injury saw number eight Heaslip replaced in the starting XV by Peter O’Mahony, who proved a useful force at the line-out in a man-of-the-match display as Ireland won 13-9 to end England’s Grand Slam hopes.

Jones was not interested in suggesting the switch may have been part of an elaborate Irish ruse, but he could not resist a playful comment when speaking to the media after the match.

Asked if he was suspicious the change was tactical, Jones said: “I don’t really care, mate. We’ve got to play against the 15 on the field, if they want to do that that’s fair enough. Maybe a leprechaun tackled him in the warm-up, I don’t know.”

He added: “He’s [O’Mahony] a fantastic player, those conditions probably suited him more than Jamie Heaslip, who is probably more a top of the ground type player.

“Ireland played superbly, I thought we had them after half-time, they began to kick indiscriminately and gave us free balls, but they were just too good for us and it happens sometimes.”

Despite his praise of Ireland’s display, Jones’ leprechaun comment was not taken particularly well by counterpart Schmidt.

“It couldn’t be a more flawed theory,” said Schmidt. “It’s probably a bit of a slight on us, to be honest. It’s not something we do.

“We pick our team and prepare them as best as we can and go out and play. It was a disruption more than anything for us.

“Dan [Leavy] got a massive shock when I said to him to take that jersey off Pete, and I told Pete, ‘You take that jersey off Jamie’.

“I don’t know if you saw, but suddenly Jamie stepped aside and the doc had a look at him, and the doc tested him five minutes before kick-off.

“Jamie is one of our go-to guys in the line-out as well and plays with width, and we played with a lot of width in the first 20 minutes.”



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