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Dublin: 6 °C Thursday 13 December, 2018
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Schmidt says Ireland 'need to get the car tuned' as All Blacks arrive in Dublin

The Kiwis will provide a far sterner test than Argentina did last weekend.

YOU COULD GUESS Joe Schmidt was a teacher and is now a world-class coach from the way he uses language.

The Ireland head coach has a way of simplifying potentially complex concepts into succinct and meaningful phrases or analogies. 

His assessment of Ireland’s performance against Argentina on Saturday and what they need to do ahead of the long-awaited clash with the All Blacks this weekend?

Luke McGrath celebrate scoring a try with Bundee Aki and Peter O'Mahony Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

“I think it demonstrates that we need to get the car tuned,” said Schmidt after his team’s 28-17 victory over the Pumas.

“We’re going to need the cohesion that a smooth-running vehicle has.”

Speaking after Ireland’s win, Schmidt hadn’t yet had the opportunity to analyse the All Blacks’ narrow win over England, but even the glimpses he had seen underlined to him that his own team need to be far better next time around.

“At one stage, I can’t remember the [England] player, but he chipped over the top and Kieran Read gave it to Damian McKenzie with jets on, going in the other direction,” said Schmidt.

“Now, Owen Farrell got back and managed to knock the ball out of his hands.

“I just think that if we’re untidy as we were tonight, it’s going to be a very tough day at the office. We have to tidy up a number of elements of play.”

Lineout, restarts, aerial receptions, decision-making and set-piece defence – Schmidt has many areas to focus on after the three-try win over the Pumas, which is not the worst position to be in coming into the All Blacks game.

The Ireland boss was also keen to point out that Ireland’s preparation wasn’t ideal for the Pumas game, while 13 changes meant readjustment after the win over Italy in Chicago.

“I thought there was some really good stuff as well,” said Schmidt. “Maybe, it’s the expectation we have of ourselves or that you guys [the media] have of us now that we come out and hit the ground running every time – it’s tougher to do than that.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt knows his team need to be better. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

“We got back from Chicago on Monday. We trained pretty quietly on Tuesday, then it was into training on Thursday and I felt we trained reasonably well.

“I was hopeful a few things would work out alright and enough worked out alright to beat a team that have just finished a Rugby Championship together.

“Talking to Mario [Ledesma], they had two weeks off. Then, they had two weeks to prepare for us. They are a really good team. To come through that and get out the other side, the players merit a little bit of respect on the back of that.

“Then, also, they will merit a few tidy-ups as well.”

As Schmidt began working with his players towards the All Blacks game yesterday, the Kiwis arrived in from London after their victory at Twickenham.

They’re based in Blanchardstown for the early part of the week before a move into the city centre on Thursday.

Head coach Steve Hansen was his usual mischievous self in his first press conference of the week yesterday evening, insisting he wasn’t trying to “stir any trouble” as he predicted that Conor Murray would play for Ireland.

Hansen said the All Blacks and Ireland have developed “a fierce rivalry,” although he shook his head at the notion that his team’s defeat in Chicago in 2016 left any scars.

Joe Schmidt might still be bleeding from the last-gasp loss to the Kiwis in 2013, but Hansen says the All Blacks have moved on from 2016.

“Have we been scarred? I don’t think so,” said Hansen. “We’ve been beaten by plenty of people.

Kieran Read lifts the Sir Edmund Hillary Shield The All Blacks won the Sir Edmund Hillary shield on Saturday. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

“It’s the ability to bounce back which makes you a good rugby side. We saw a bit of that character yesterday [against England], going down 15-0 and then coming back. So there’s plenty of character in the All Black jersey.

“And I’d say there’s plenty in the Irish jersey too at the moment.”

A thriller awaits this weekend and though the build-up will be fun, particularly with Ireland’s team selection offering a great deal of intrigue, but Saturday simply cannot come quickly enough.

“It’s exciting,” said Schmidt. “I’ve had guys from New Zealand ringing me looking for tickets for the last six-to-nine months. I haven’t got tickets, I can’t get you tickets, so I can’t give you tickets. So, if you guys have got any spare, I’ve got people to give them to.

“We shouldn’t really be giving them to Kiwis anyway because we want to get as much green in there, as much volume supporting us as possible.

“Because, you know, the two times we have played them here – I remember the roar in 2013 was phenomenal.

“When we were driving that lineout with 10 minutes to go, the roar was just deafening. It didn’t work out the right way and it was the same last time we played them, but they scored a phenomenal try very, very quickly at the start of the game the last time we played them – that was pure All Blacks class.

“The speed of the ruck, the speed of transfer, the quality of the passing and the running lines… all of those things that we know that are coming, they presented.

“There’s no doubt they’ll want to hit the ground running in a similar fashion and we have got to be ready to do the same.”

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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