Just a few moments after Joe Schmidt repeated the cliché about focusing on the next game, the Ireland head coach was able to discuss, in detail, the dangers presented by a possible World Cup quarter-final meeting with South Africa in 50 days' time.

Worrying the Ireland chief is the fact that Felix Jones has taken up a short-term contract with the Springboks given that the ex-Munster player and coach has first-hand experience of the inner sanctum of Schmidt’s team, having toured with squad as recently as 2017 in Japan.

Forced into early retirement at the age of 28, Jones’ stints as technical and backs coach with Munster overlapped with the arrival of Rassie Erasmus at the province.

The South African left Munster to take a job with his native country in November 2017, and took Jacques Nienaber, defence coach, with him. 

The Springboks were in a terrible state when Erasmus took over but he has transformed the team and even led them to the shortened Rugby Championship earlier this month.

Jones, Jacques Nienaber, and Erasmus at Munster

Jones, said Erasmus, was hired because the players wanted "more analysis of defensive patterns and structures to assist in breaking down the opposition.

"Felix will bring a fresh eye to our analysis and planning and I am looking forward to his input."

That’s what has Schmidt, who steps down as Ireland coach after the World Cup, worried.

"Felix can bring a lot in terms of identifying little things within the Irish game if that day does come," former Munster scrum-half Mike Prendergast, now attack and backs coach at Racing 92, told RTÉ Sport.

"There are bits and pieces that he would have taken from the 2017 tour but it’s more about the Irish players as a group and also their individual characteristics and their profiles.

"Obviously Rassie knows the players too, they will have that insight into Ireland.

"To bring someone in for a short block so close to the World Cup shows he’s got big trust in him.

"Most of Rassie’s moves since he’s gone in there have been very smart, themselves and England are the two squads with the most depth.

"He’s brought back Francois Louw, Francois Steyn, Schalk Brits – Felix may be the last piece of the jigsaw."

Mike Prendergast

Jonny Holland spent three years at Munster between 2013 and 2016 and the RTÉ rugby columnist says of his former team-mate: "Felix has always been the hardest worker in the room.

"His preparation was always very thorough, which is clearly why Rassie wants to utilise him in their World Cup prep. 

"I remember wondering how Felix is 100% tuned into everything he was doing, that’s what it seemed like outside his head anyway.

"He didn’t waste time between meetings or sessions by hanging around. He was looking for ways to be more efficient and squeeze in more extras or analysis. His commitment to the game can’t be questioned. 

"He’ll be a very useful tool for those guys going into tough games, a good chunk of work will be done for them on the analysis side so they should value what he will bring to the squad." 

Glowing references like those above may indicate just why Schmidt appeared to be so taken aback by Jones’ decision to head south ahead of the World Cup.

The IRFU told RTÉ Sport "that other coaching opportunities within the Irish system were being explored with him in recent months" without revealing any details.

The Ireland boss was frustrated that the Dubliner didn’t take up any of the job offers made by the IRFU.

Only time will tell if Jones comes back to haunt his old boss.

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