Schmidt gets another accolade as he manages to pick a bigger squad than Woodward’s Lions

THERE WAS A lot of speculation and enthusiasm surrounding Joe Schmidt’s 6 Nations squad announcement today as people wondered who would be brought back in and who would be snubbed.

It turns out Joe was able to have the best of both worlds as he picked an extended 46 man squad to cater for the 6 Nations and the Wolfhounds game against England next week. It meant that there was room for a huge number of players who are just returning from injury – Healy, O’Brien, Henderson, Fitzgerald, Earls – as well as squeezing in a few players that many thought were coming to the end of their careers – Mike Ross and Isaac Boss.

By selecting 46 players, Joe Schmidt also broke a special milestone in the history of squad selection. He has claimed a record that many thought would never be surpassed, much like Bob Beamon’s mark for the long jump.

46 players breaks Clive Woodward’s previously untouched 45-man Lions squad that he initially chose to tour New Zealand with in 2005.

That announcement back in ’05 was greeted with a great deal of scorn and eye-rolling – basically people saying that Woodward picked the 34 form players and 11 or so World Cup pals.

The are some similarities between Schmidt’s squad and that Lions party. Woodward firmly had an idea of two tours in New Zealand – one test series and one for the midweek side – just as Joe Schmidt has with the 6 Nations and the Wolfhounds.

Woodward picked 44 players initially and added one more. Just like Schmidt, the World Cup-winning boss took a punt on a few big names who were returning from injury too. As you can see from the squad below, Woodward probably could have trimmed a fair bit of fat.

Props (Six)

Gethin Jenkins, Graham Rowntree, John Hayes, Andrew Sheridan, Matt Stevens and Julian White.

Hookers (Four)

Shane Byrne, Steve Thompson, Gordon Bulloch and Andy Titterrell.

Second rows (five)

Paul O’Connell, Donncha O’Callaghan, Ben Kay, Danny Grewcock and Malcolm O’Kelly.

Back rows (eight)

Neil Back, Richard Hill, Lawrence Dallaglio, Lewis Moody, Martin Corry, Michael Owen, Simon Taylor and Martyn Williams.

Scrum-half (four)

Chris Cusiter, Matt Dawson, Dwayne Peel and Gareth Cooper.

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Out-half (four)

Jonny Wilkinson, Ronan O’Gara, Stephen Jones and Charlie Hodgson.

Centre (six)

Brian O’Driscoll, Gordon D’Arcy, Gavin Henson, Tom Shanklin, Will Greenwood and Ollie Smith.

Wing (four)

Denis Hickie, Shane Williams, Jason Robinson, Shane Horgan.

Fullback (four)

Geordan Murphy, Josh Lewsey, Gareth Thomas and Iain Balshaw.

The lesson from that squad is to never let Clive Woodward plan your party unless you want 100 people to show up to your cosy two bedroom flat.

The battle for squad number supremacy was won and lost in the back row. Clive Woodward picked a seemingly excessive eight but Joe Schmidt laughed at that meagre total and chose nine men to fill the 6, 7 and 8 jerseys.

Will Schmidt try to enjoy the victory even more by hiring two spin doctors? Woodward famously brought Alastair Campbell in the role back in ’05.

Our vote is these two guys. Fire and Ice.

Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

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