Ireland head coach says there is “no internal noise” regarding the position of captain Rory Best.

Best, 37, was criticised for his part in Ireland’s malfunctioning line-out during their chastening 57-15 defeat by England on Saturday leading to questions over his place in the team.

“There are no decisions that have been made in that direction,” said Schmidt.

“If guys perform better than any other player that played last weekend, there is always a contest.”

The 42-point loss, Schmidt’s heaviest in six years at the helm of Irish , came just five weeks before Ireland’s World Cup opener against Scotland on 22 September.

Best, who will retire after the tournament in Japan, has received considerable criticism in the aftermath of the defeat in which Ireland lost six of their 15 line-outs, with England scoring off the turnovers on several occasions.

Ireland’s problems did not stop at set-piece, with the visitors missing 34 tackles and coughing up eight tries in a one-sided encounter.

“It’s an unacceptable result for us, it’s a performance beneath where we’d like and need to be,” admitted Schmidt.

“The whole group are very conscious that we have a short period of time to accelerate what is part of a progression.”

Ireland’s World Cup preparations will conclude with back-to-back fixtures against Wales, first at the Principality Stadium on Saturday before hosting them in Dublin a week later.

Minor injuries are expected to keep experienced backs and Keith Earls sidelined until the final game at the Aviva Stadium while scrum-half Conor Murray, who was replaced at half-time in Twickenham despite passing a head injury assessment, is also unlikely to feature in Cardiff.

The absences could see half-back duo Jack Carty and Kieran Marmion, who have yet to start a warm-up match, starting on Saturday.

Schmidt also confirmed on Wednesday that Cian Healy “will probably play the Saturday after” this weekend after the prop was taken off with an ankle injury in the first half against England.


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