George Hook labels Joe Schmidt "the Margaret Thatcher of coaching"

The rugby pundit claims Schmidt and his selections "are not for turning"

Joe Schmidt, Margaret Thatcher, George Hook

Image: Composite PA Wire/Press Association Images

Joe Schmidt has been labeled as a "conservative" coach after Ireland's 58-15 win over Italy on Saturday afternoon.

The claim was made by The Right Hook presenter and rugby pundit George Hook  who was speaking to the Irish Independent after the win in the Aviva Stadium. The win was Ireland's first of the campaign.

Rob Kearney missed out on selection due to injury and was replaced in the team by Simon Zebo. Despite Zebo's impressive performance, Hook expects the Leinster full-back to play against Scotland next week. "I think he will pick Kearney. I would put my minuscule pension on it, that he will pick Kearney because he is a conservative."

Hook was speaking about Schmidt's selection dilemma at 15, but was quick to point out that Rob Henshaw or Jared Payne may be better options at fullback. "It's really interesting in the Schmidt full-back selection mix. We have a choice between a fullback who can't attack and a fullback who can attack but can't defend. That's his choice. Instead of which, in the centre he has two fullbacks who can attack and defend."

Schmidt was compared to a former British Prime Minister over his failure to make changes to the squad. "This man is the Margaret Thatcher of coaching. He's not for turning."

Ireland's final game of the Six Nations takes place next Saturday against Scotland. Whether Zebo or Kearney starts a fullback remains to be seen.