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Ireland hoping Schmidt will stay on to lead 'exciting new crop' through

Assistant coach Greg Feek is excited by what the emerging young players can bring.

IRELAND CAPTAIN RORY Best and his teammates are hopeful that head coach Joe Schmidt will extend his contract beyond 2017.

The Ireland squad applaud Jonathan Sexton as her arrives for the team photo Ireland were in good spirits at their captain's run today. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

Schmidt indicated yesterday that he will make a decision on his future with Ireland after June’s tour of South Africa, when the IRFU hope the Kiwi will agree to a new deal retaining him until the 2019 World Cup in Japan.

“Absolutely, I’d urge him to stay on,” said Best at the Aviva Stadium today. “From a player’s point of view, this coaching staff is one of the best I’ve ever worked with, and he’s one of the best coaches I’ve worked with.

“It would be great to keep it together and keep pushing Ireland forward. Okay, we’re playing for third place tomorrow but to have delivered two championships in three years is not a bad return.”

Ireland’s players have indeed expressed a uniform desire to see Schmidt stay on beyond next year, with out-half Johnny Sexton underlining that yesterday, but the coaching staff are also very keen for Schmidt to extend.

Scrum coach Greg Feek’s career has been tied up with Schmidt’s since joining his compatriot at Leinster in 2010 and he wants to see the head coach remain in charge for the foreseeable future.

“I hope so, I’ve enjoyed working with Joe for the last six seasons, we’ve got a good relationship,” said Feek. “The players and Joe are among the reasons why I’m here.

“You’re always tested, you want to be challenged all the time, you want to grow and you want to see what the next thing will be. The next thing will be exciting as well. Andy Farrell coming will be another exciting event for us, there will be a change-up there too.

“Joe’s already talked about his reasons behind that decision-making, but we all get on really well behind the scenes and I hope he stays on.”

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Ireland training at the Aviva Stadium Ireland are ready for their final round clash with Scotland tomorrow. Source: Tommy Dickson/INPHO

This Six Nations has been a frustrating one for Schmidt, with the draw against Wales and the defeat to France in the opening rounds meaning Ireland’s title defence was realistically over at an early stage.

However, Feek believes himself, Schmidt and the rest of the staff will have learned from this experience and indicated that the emergence of the likes of Josh van der Flier, Ultan Dillane and Stuart McCloskey shows how bright Ireland’s future is.

“I think you always want to grow and learn from your different experiences,” said Feek. “The exciting thing if Joe and all of us stay on together is that there’s a new crop coming through that you guys have had a glimpse at.

There’s some really exciting things with that, and we’ll definitely take a lot from the experience of this competition; you have to.

“But also you’re not going to suddenly go away and change everything, but there will be things even from the World Cup and last Six Nations that we alter. You’ve always got to keep evolving.

“Watch any successful team from the past, they were always adding in different things. So that will be the big challenge going forward, to create that extra excitement around what we do, how we do it and who we are.”

- This article was updated at 4.15pm to amend an error indicating that Ireland had won three championships in two years. 

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