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'It's the same weather, but the same warmth': Schmidt overwhelmed on return to Mullingar

25 years after arriving in Mullingar, the Kiwi is hoping the latest trip can be a springboard to great things in London.

Joe Schmidt signs autographs for supporters Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

A QUARTER OF a century after a young Joe Schmidt first set foot in Mullingar and honed a knack for coaching, yesterday he returned with an international rugby team.

Under a dishwater grey sky, Schmidt took charge of 15 seniors and 18 under 20s on a beautiful carpet-like artificial surface that would have been beyond his the imagination of the man who coached Multyfarnham to a Donnybrook final.

However, half a life later, the Kiwi feels a strong sense of familiarity.

“It’s the same weather, but the same warmth,” says the 50-year-old Ireland coach, we have been incredibly overwhelmed.”

Joe Schmidt greets fans Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

After a disappointing one-point loss left Schmidt and Ireland without a win in their last three games, the week without a match to plan for combined with the trip down memory lane, seemed to give the back-to-back Six Nations champion coach a renewed energy.

Rory Best Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“It has been probably a timely midlands visit for us… last weekend our disappointment was very difficult to take. And to come here and see the enthusiasm and the incredible positivity of the people that are the genuine supporter has been uplifting.

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Ireland supporters at the open training session Source: Cathal Noonan/INPHO

“We can use it as just a bit of a springboard to get a bit of positivity and a spring in our step going into Monday and Tuesday’s training.”

While there was more bad news from the medical tent, experienced and inexperienced players seemed to make these midlanders happy with their visit to a star studded local rugby club.

Stuart McCloskey Stuart McCloskey was retained to train with Ireland while others returned to their province. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Ultan Dillane Ultan Dillane may also be in line for his debut after the new that Mike McCarthy's season is over. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Jamie Heaslip Vice captain Jamie Heaslip covers up from the rain while greeting kids. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Source: The42 Six Nations Show/SoundCloud

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