Six Nations

Schmidt calls for improvement

2015-02-15 13:17
Joe Schmidt (Getty Images)

Dublin - Ireland's hopes of avenging last year's defeat by England hinges on the defending Six Nations champions putting their scoring chances away when they meet in a fortnight's time, said Irish coach Joe Schmidt.

The 49-year-old New Zealander -- who has turned Ireland's fortunes around since taking over the coaching post following the 2013 Six Nations -- was speaking after the Irish had held on to beat France 18-11 in a nervy encounter at Lansdowne Road.

It was Ireland's ninth successive test victory, putting them within one of the national record of 10 set back in 2002/03 and ended in sensational style by England when they thrashed them 42-6 in a Grand Slam decider in Dublin.

Schmidt, who came to the Ireland post after a successful spell with Leinster which included two European Cup triumphs, said he wasn't aware of the record but added it didn't mean anything to him for the moment.

"I didn't know that was the record," said Schmidt.

"What I do know is that it will be a year since we lost to the same foes.

"I have a lot of respect for them (England)."

Schmidt said he wanted his side to be more clinical in finishing off their chances than they had been against France, the hosts relying on five penalties from man of the match Jonathan Sexton and one from Ian Madigan for their points.

"I just hope our killer instinct and accuracy will be on song," said Schmidt.

"Their (England) performance against Wales is better than anything we have managed in our two games so far this campaign," added Schmidt, referring to England's come from behind 21-16 win over the Welsh in Cardiff on the opening weekend.

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell concurred with his boss.

"There are a lot of things to be improved upon," said the 35-year-old lock, who was celebrating rare back-to-back wins over France in his 98 cap career.

"To come back from 10 points down as England did against Wales and win is one of the best all-time Six Nations performances."

Schmidt, who was proved right in his selection of Sexton despite sceptics doubting he would be at his best after being out for 12 weeks because of four concussions last year, said it would be disrespectful to suggest the winner of the game with England would be set for the Grand Slam.

"It's our next match but I have too much respect for two of my fellow Kiwis 'Gats' (Warren Gatland coach of Wales) and Vern (Vern Cotter coach of Scotland, who Schmidt assisted at top French side Clermont) to even think about that," said Schmidt.

"They play each other on Sunday and one of those teams will come back into the game (the title reckoning) with victory," added Schmidt.

Schmidt said that it was too early to say whether No.8 Jamie Heaslip would be doubtful for the England match after the British and Irish Lions star got kneed in the back by France lock Pascal Pape in the second-half.

"He's very uncomfortable at the moment, he got a knee in the lower back," said Schmidt.

"We'll get him checked out in the next couple of days. At least we can come up for breath for a couple of days before we start our preparation for England, so we'll wait to see how Jamie is."

With regard to casting the eye further forwards to when Ireland and France next meet in the World Cup later this year, Schmidt said the result on Saturday did not mean much.

"We didn't win by much," said Schmidt.

"In six months time the team personnel may well have changed.

"The fate of these sort of matches hang on very small things.

"If you look at the last four matches between these two teams they have been very tight (two draws followed by two Irish victories by two points and now seven)."

Read more on:    ireland  |  six nations  |  joe schmidt  |  rugby

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