IRELAND RUGBY HEAD coach says he has no issues with Paul O’Connell ahead of the November internationals.
The New Zealand-born boss faces into his first series in charge of the Ireland side with the matter of picking a skipper top of his agenda.
But Schmidt insists the ugly head-kicking incident involving Dave Kearney last season will not affect Paul O’Connell’s prospects of again leading the side.
The Munster second row escaped punishment for a kick — which he said was unintentional — to the head of Kearney during an interprovincial clash at Thomond Park.
“All those matters are closed,” Schmidt said on RTÉ radio this morning.
“You’ve got to represent the group of players that you’re coaching at the time. I felt I needed to represent Dave Kearney. At the time I felt he was the forgotten man in what was reported in the incident and you know, the fact that Dave was in a pretty rich vein of form; he’d just taken a great high ball in the action preceding him being knocked unconscious and for Dave he didn’t get the opportunity to play in any of the play-off games at the end of the year as a result of that.
Asked by Sean O’Rourke if the event will be a black mark against O’Connell in the debate over the next national team skipper, Schmidt said: “Not at all. I think a lot of the things that happen on a rugby field happen incredibly quickly with a lot of traffic and distraction around you.
“Thirty big men on a field inevitably means incidents do occur that are unintentional but they need to be looked at closely to make sure players are kept safe.”