Win over Australia can prove that Schmidt's Ireland are a consistent force

Ireland international wing Fergus McFadden is in no doubt that Schmidt has already achieved that goal.

Schmidt in relaxed form at Carton House this week.
Schmidt in relaxed form at Carton House this week.
Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

A WIN OVER Australia this weekend would prove beyond all doubt that Joe Schmidt has turned Ireland into a consistent force.

Under previous regimes like Declan Kidney’s, Ireland were more than capable of spectacular one-off performances, such as 2011′s World Cup win over the Wallabies. The long-standing issue was that Irish teams struggled to back those famous wins up on a regular basis.

Signs since last November and the superb performance against New Zealand have been promising, with Schmidt’s side rarely dipping beneath the Kiwi head coaches’ exacting standards.

As Schmidt himself would admit, it has not been perfect, but winning seven of their eight most recent fixtures is a clear indicator that Irish consistency is a shifting beast. Backing it up this weekend against the Wallabies is important in a World Cup year.

One of the band of Ireland players who have missed this month’s series through injury, Fergus McFadden, is convinced that Schmidt’s methods have pushed Ireland’s base level of performance to a higher level in the last 12 months.

I think the main thing that Joe has brought since the last November series has been consistency. I think that we played that first game against Samoa [in 2013] and won, but then against Australia we were disappointing and lost.

“Since then, though, it’s been consistent performances. I think that Joe has brought that in and I think that beating South Africa at the start of this series was absolutely massive.

“People would have said that two wins against Georgia and Australia this month and it would have been successful, so we’re in a great place going into that final game. If we do beat Australia, we’ll have massive momentum going into the [2015] Six Nations.”

Fergus McFadden with Andrew Trimble Injuries to men like McFadden and Andrew Trimble have tested Ireland's depth.

There is a major sense of optimism around Irish rugby at present, perhaps one that threatens to spill over if Schmidt’s men do power to victory on Saturday against the Wallabies.

Fuelling some of the positive thinking around Ireland’s chances at next year’s World Cup is the fact that players like Sean O’Brien, Cian Healy, Andrew Trimble, Chris Henry, Dave Kearney, Marty Moore, Donnacha Ryan, Keith Earls, Luke Fitzgerald and McFadden are currently missing.

Out of the picture for now, but by no means forgotten.

Joe rang me before the camp, asking me about my injury,” says McFadden.

“Listen, if you’re injured you couldn’t really bring much to the table for the series. We’re obviously right behind the lads and I’ll go to the game at the weekend if I’m not involved with Leinster.”

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McFadden and the rest of the injured cast will be hoping Ireland’s new-found consistency is present again on Saturday against the Wallabies. Coming back into a squad fresh from a November clean sweep would be a distinct pleasure and a true challenge.

Every player has to earn their jersey in Schmidt’s camp.

Read‘s full interview with Leinster and Ireland wing Fergus McFadden here —>

Guinness teamed up with Fergus McFadden to announce an extraordinary experience for rugby fans on the Guinness Plus mobile App to celebrate the final Guinness Series international as Ireland take on Australia. Supporters who check in to their local pub on match day Saturday 22nd November will have the chance to win the match ball from the game signed by the Ireland team and delivered by a player.

In addition, supporters who check in on Guinness Plus any day before 22nd November 2014 will have the chance to win the ultimate experience for themselves and two friends.

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Murray Kinsella

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