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O'Connell gives Schmidt stamp of approval
ESPN Staff
September 24, 2013
Paul O'Connell will hope to add another Six Nations medal to his collection come February © Getty Images
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Munster lock Paul O'Connell has praised Ireland boss Joe Schmidt and has given his full support to the Test team's new-look backroom staff.

Schmidt ran the rule over Ireland's top players at a national training camp which ran from Sunday through to Monday at Carlton House. It was the first time the ex-Leinster boss met the national squad after replacing former Ireland coach Declan Kidney in April.

And O'Connell, who has 85 caps for the national team, was impressed with Ireland's new-look coaching set-up with Schmidt accompanied by ex-Sharks coach John Plumtree and Les Kiss. O'Connell said: "Any time you work with someone new and as successful a coach as Joe Schmidt, it is always a good thing.

"We've only had a small number of sessions with him, but they have been really enjoyable and stimulating. Joe has a tried and trusted way of running his coaching staff and running the teams he coaches, and you look at the success he has had with Leinster over the last number of years and it is hard not to trust that.

"This is our first time working with John, and he has a great rugby CV, having worked in so many great places, particularly Wellington and with the Sharks (in South Africa) for the last number of years."

Ireland will face Samoa, Australia and New Zealand over successive weekends and Schmidt admits time is at a premium as he attempts to get his side ready for their opener on November 9.

"I know the Guinness Series is only weeks away now, and those weeks tend to go very quickly when you are watching a lot of rugby and a lot of footage," Schmidt said. "There are obviously challenges to build strength and depth in a number of positions. Some of those positions are well known, but right from the back to the front of the team you want to build strength in depth.

"We found out last season that you are only a few injuries away from being made a little bit vulnerable, so we have got to try to build that depth. If we can build that it will give us a little bit more stability going forward, and we can be a little bit more regular with our team performance.

"Hopefully, we can gain the consistency that enables us to be really competitive, no matter who we have available to us. Coming from 33 games a season (with Leinster) to 10 maximum (with Ireland) and all 10 of them are effectively finals, you don't do anything other than pick your top side."

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