Schmidt proud but frustrated at NZ loss

Sun, 20 Nov 2016 08:05

REACTION: Joe Schmidt professed to being proud of his players but frustrated too at not clinching a second successive win over world champions New Zealand on Saturday.

The 51-year-old Kiwi saw three of his key players (Jonathan Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and Christiaan Stander) leave the bruising battle within the first half hour in a match they ended up losing 9-21, although there was controversy involving two of the three tries the visitors scored.

"I am frustrated but really proud of the effort," said Schmidt, who steered Ireland to a historic first win in 29 Test meetings stretching back 111 years against the All Blacks a fortnight ago in Chicago.

"When you lose your flyhalf [Sexton] and your inside centre [Henshaw] both of whom were immense in Chicago it is a huge loss.

"Both Paddy [Jackson Sexton's replacement] and Garry [Ringrose, who came on for Henshaw] both did huge jobs.

"However, I felt at times understandably given the changes in personnel we lost our shape and were a bit static.

"But at the same time the manner in which those who came on at such an early stage, and do not possess as much experience, demonstrated that we're building depth.

"Are they fully confident yet? Perhaps not but they will become so as they gain more experience."

Schmidt, who could well be without Henshaw, Sexton, Stander and fullback Rob Kearney for the final November Test against Australia next Saturday, said he had thought Ireland could become the first side since South Africa in 2009 to beat the All Blacks twice in a row.

"I thought when he trailed 9-14 we could win it," he said.

"So when you don't get a result after you pour on the pressure and drop a couple of balls close to the line and have a couple of our guys break the line but be held up it is very frustrating.

"I think the All Blacks were relieved to get off the pitch at the end because of the amount of pressure we put on them."

Captain Rory Best, playing his 99th Test, said he had asked referee Jaco Peyper to refer New Zealand's third try - Malakai Fekitoa's second - to the TMO up above as he suspected there was a forward pass in the move.

There was added spice to the request as Peyper had been subject to criticism by the Irish after a narrow defeat to France in February's Six Nations match.

"I went up to him and said please look at it," said Best.

"He said I have a team upstairs and I can't be seen to give under pressure to the captain.

"I replied there was a lot at stake over this try.

"One needs to feel that we have a chance on important calls like that."

Schmidt, who refused to comment on Peyper's performance preferring to fall back on the match assessor dealing with such matters, said the All Blacks had probably indulged in a little gamesmanship at times to thwart the Irish attacks.

"When we had them under the pump they probably liked to concede a penalty preferring to stifle our rhythm," said Schmidt, who has turned Ireland round in three years winning two Six Nations titles and claiming at least one win over New Zealand, Australia and South Africa.

"I have to compliment them on their defence as they held us up over the line several times - it is debatable whether we also held up Beauden Barrett for his try [the TMO awarded it despite one image showing Sexton had prevented him from grounding the ball].

"Still we can take a little bit of heart from the match - we held our own against a team that destroyed their Rugby Championship rivals this year."

Agence France-Presse