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Birthday Card / new girl greeting card / nick miller / Schmidt / anniversary card / funny card for him / happy birthday card / funny card for her (Schmidt Bday Card)

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Opinions vary. Former Ireland international Dan Leavy told the Rugby Weekly Extra podcast it was a “big advantage” for New Zealand. “Schmidt knows exactly how Ireland play, what they try to do,” Leavy said. “He will have them unbelievably well drilled. He will put up player profiles and have little notes on what they do, who carries, where they’re vulnerable and stuff like that. And the fact that they have three or four days extra [to prepare for the game] means they’ll really know their Top Trumps.” An “interesting subplot” to the match was how Simon Easterby, Ireland’s assistant coach, labelled it. That is putting it mildly. It was noticeable right from Farrell’s first training session in Portugal in January of 2020. Small things. Ireland’s players warming up with music; Mike Catt turning up with American footballs to test different skills; Farrell announcing his team to face Scotland in the opening match of that year’s Six Nations on the Tuesday rather than the Thursday, as if to say ‘I’m not stressing about the opposition knowing my team early’. He did the same this week, bringing his team announcement for Saturday’s game forward by 24 hours as it suited Ireland’s travel plans. Schmidt used to guard his team-sheet religiously until the Thursday, enacting the equivalent of the Spanish Inquisition if it leaked early. Both things can be true. Schmidt’s intimate knowledge of Ireland is probably a help to New Zealand. Personnel-wise they still resemble the team who were dumped out by New Zealand in his final match in Japan four years ago. Schmidt will no doubt have devised some clever starter plays and set-piece strike moves to test his former charges.

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