'No greater allure than the world's best team' - Schmidt on potential All Blacks rematch

Ireland could be set to play New Zealand again.

Schmidt is eager for the Irish players to continually test themselves against the best.
Schmidt is eager for the Irish players to continually test themselves against the best.

JOE SCHMIDT HAS expressed enthusiasm about the possibility of a rematch between Ireland and New Zealand next year.

Reports suggest the IRFU are hopeful that Ireland can be accommodated into the All Blacks’ busy schedule once more, following their devastating last-minute recent defeat to the reigning world champions.

Speaking at the launch of the Ulster Bank League Awards, the Ireland coach indicated he would welcome the prospect of a rematch and another chance for Ireland to beat New Zealand for the first time in their history.

“There’s no greater allure than the world’s best team,” he said. “A player loves to challenge himself against the best.

“There’s no guarantee that things would pan out the same way they panned out the last time but they’re the sort of challenges you want. I know with Wales announcing their Autumn Series next year — they’re playing the top three in the world.

“No matter what sport you play, if you’re playing the best in the world, you get a reality check on exactly where you are, but also you hopefully will improve yourself. The more often you’re challenged to what you’re capable of, the more capable you become getting to that edge of performance.”

He continued: “They bring a great crowd in. One of the things I’d mention about the crowd is I’d love them to be coming in to support Ireland because, no matter who they’re playing, they’re delighted to be there.

“The energy and the effort we put in on the field [against New Zealand] — I think that’s our challenge. We’ve got to make sure that we deliver to the level that we attained at the end of the Guinness series. If we deliver that, people will come anyway.”

And would the Ireland coach be confident of the team’s chances, given how close they came the other week?

“I’d be fairly short term focused — what can we do against Scotland, Wales and England? We’ll look at that first. If there was a game against the All Blacks, we’d probably have our hands full against South Africa and Argentina.

“South Africa went through the Northern Hemisphere unbeaten. Australia — but for a couple of tough calls — look like they could have toppled their foes in a tough schedule of five games. So Southern Hemisphere teams are certainly a target for Northern Hemisphere teams. And it’s something we have to be comfortable doing by 2015 [for the World Cup], because they’re obviously going to be part of that tournament.”

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Paul Fennessy

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