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Schmidt: 'I’ve got a sick son, the reality for me is a long way from rugby'

Ireland’s head coach pushed the credit for back-to-back Six Nations on the players and his coaching staff.

Murray Kinsella reports from Murrayfield

WITH IRELAND NOW back-to-back Six Nations champions, the excitement over this year’s World Cup is bound to grow and grow.

But for Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt, there are more important matters at hand before he turns his attention to the global tournament.

Joe Schmidt Schmidt will enjoy this success, but family matter rule. Billy Stickland / INPHO Billy Stickland / INPHO / INPHO

The former Leinster coach will enjoy this latest success with his players this evening after a whirlwind day of emotions, but thereafter family comes first. His 11-year-old son Luke suffers from epilepsy and Schmidt hopes to find help in that regard.

“It’s a massive boost to be honest, but the reality for me is that I’m on dad duty,” said Schmidt when asked about the World Cup after Ireland lifted their Six Nations trophy at Murrayfield.

“I’ve got a sick son and we’re off overseas to see specialists to try to get some help with him, so the reality for me is a long way from rugby when we fly out on Tuesday.

“I’ll park the rugby for a little while, and we’ll see if we can get really lucky on both sides of what’s important to us, then we’ll look at the World Cup towards the end of April and I’ll be watching performances of players as will the other coaches.

We’ll be tracking players through the medical and analysis staff, and then we’ll try to put that together.”

A touching moment at the tail end of a remarkable day, and one that puts everything into perspective.

Schmidt has led Ireland to two Six Nations titles in his first two attempts, but his instant reaction after the second of those successes is to push the credit onto the players and his support staff.

That much reflects the reality of the situation, in that Ireland do have a strong playing and coaching group at present, but it also speaks volumes of the Kiwi’s modesty.

Asked if this was his greatest achievement in coaching, given that Ireland last won back-to-back titles in 1948 and 1949, Schmidt immediately moved the focus away from himself.

Peter O'Mahony and Conor Murray celebrate with the trophy Peter O'Mahony and Simon Zebo celebrate at Murrayfield. Dan Sheridan / INPHO Dan Sheridan / INPHO / INPHO

“The only thing I’d say about the achievement is that it’s an incredibly player-led environment,” said Schmidt. “We have an incredibly good management staff. I think Jason Cowman got them in the condition that they needed to be in.

“Even in the provinces, they do a great job in making sure we get the athlete that we need. Once they’re in our environment, we have a great medical crew, our analysis guys are great.

“Once the game kicks off, I’m not a lot better than an excited spectator and I was a pretty excited one today through three games. I don’t think it’s good for my heart!

Even for the players, they played on physically [against Scotland] and then they mentally played another one [England's game], certainly emotionally played another one, watching that game.”

Schmidt has tasted success and victory everywhere his coaching career has taken him, with this latest trophy accentuating suggestions that the New Zealander is among the very best in the world in his profession.

Perhaps the humility is part of the reason for his superb record? Pushed to compare this year’s Six Nations win with that of 2014, Schmidt again credited others, captain Paul O’Connell coming in for justified praise.

“It’s special for different reasons,” said Schmidt. “I think it’s special because of the way we had to rebound from last week [and defeat in Cardiff]. I think it’s special because it’s been so long since we’ve put back-to-back Six Nations together.

“I think after last week, the disappointment of missing a record maybe and particularly on Paul’s 100th cap, it would have had a little bit of synergy about it.

“So the big guy [O'Connell] just decided to grab the group by the neck this week and drag them into this game with a fair bit of energy and resolve. Thankfully that was just enough to get us over the line.”

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