Joe Schmidt aims to continue success
April 30, 2013
Joe Schmidt is aiming to finish on a high at Leinster by adding the Amlin Challenge Cup to two Heineken Cup wins © Getty Images
Joe Schmidt hopes that he can take the success he has enjoyed over the last three seasons with Leinster with him when he begins his tenure as Ireland coach.
The New Zealander agreed a three-year contract that starts on July 1 that takes him through till the end of the 2015-16 season and he has the chance to round off a successful period in charge of Leinster when they meet Stade Francais in the Amlin Challenge Cup final on May 17. Schmidt is already Leinster's most successful coach having guided them to Heineken Cup victories in 2011 and 2012.
"If you're going to find out what you can bring to a group, what better way than to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby," he said. "I've had a good look at a lot of Ireland's players and when we get our collective together, we'll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible.
"When I came to Leinster in 2010 I didn't really want to be a head coach, but I've really enjoyed the experience since. I'm really motivated by challenge and this is a super but intimidating one."
The one thing he does hope to avoid is the crippling injury list that bedevilled Declan Kidney's last six months in charge. Kidney started this year's Six Nations without talisman Paul O'Connell and in the second match he lost fly-half Jonathan Sexton and wing Simon Zebo.
In the final match away to Ireland the problems of the previous six months were encapsulated when wing Keith Earls went off injured early in the match only to see his replacement Luke Fitzgerald then leave the field before half-time. It led to Ireland finishing fifth, their worst championship performance since 1999 and meant that Kidney wasn't offered a new contract.
"It's been the same at Leinster this season. If you have injuries you're compromised and have to fight your way through those periods. I certainly sympathise with the recent Irish performances and the results that didn't go their way can be mitigated by the number of key players who were missing.
"Look at the way Munster have recharged themselves recently following the return of key players. I hope that with Ireland we'll have less injuries and give the performances that will meet the expectations of our supporters."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Where does Italy's win over Scotland rank among their successes in the Six Nations? Scrum Sevens investigates
The tone was set early on in Dublin as a more clinical Ireland made England pay. All is not lost, however, argues Phil Vickery
Monday Maul takes in retirement talk, England reshuffles, France's unfair advantage and Scotland's communication breakdown
John Griffiths takes an analytical look at Week 3 of ESPN Scrum's Fantasy Rugby game - who should you have picked?