No anthem issues for Schmidt
No anthem issues for SchmidtSHARE
Ireland's New Zealand coach Joe Schmidt said he would have no mixed feelings when his national anthem rings out at Lansdowne Road on Sunday ahead of the one-off international with the world champions.
The 48-year-old – who was appointed to the post after Declan Kidney was sacked following a disappointing Six Nations campaign earlier this year – said his mind would be already focussed on the kick-off and the first exchanges.
The Irish face an awesome task in trying to prevent the All Blacks from becoming the first team in the professional era to win all of their test matches in a calendar year, especially as they have never beaten them before.
"I've been working away at this job of coaching sides for a while now and my matchday psyche," Schmidt told reporters after naming his side to play on Sunday.
"I have to be dispassionate and to be honest most of the preamble washes over me even if the haka and the anthem are stirring. I'm focussed already on the kick-off.
"Anyway we're behind this thick glass in the stands….so hearing anything is pretty tough!
"Of course it is special but I would like to reflect on that. My patriotic loyalty is superceded by my closer loyalties to this group of players who are a terrific bunch.
"For me there are no mixed emotions in the build-up, there is just the competitive edge.
"There is no debate about which side I am backing on Sunday, although you couldn't say that about all my household!
"My son doesn't have the same inside knowledge and loyalty to the fantastic bunch of guys I am in charge of but I can guarantee you one thing, he won't be getting any Irish kit!"
Schmidt, who began his coaching career in New Zealand with Bay of Plenty followed by a spell as assistant coach with the Blues, admitted he would love to develop the Irish side into something resembling the All Blacks model.
"They have this freshness about them, no-one can ever feel safe in any position or rest up because of the endless supply of talent trying to get into the side.
"You only have to look at how many of their Under-20 world championships winning side from 2011 are in this squad to see that.
"I would love our younger players like Paddy Jackson and Rob Henshaw to be the first in a long line of players who break into their province side and then are up competing regularly for a place in our starting line-ups."
Schmidt, who got the Ireland post on the back of guiding Irish province Leinster to two European Cup triumphs, said the All Blacks played as they did because they had gained the habit down the generations of being winners.
"Through winning you gain momentum and as a result of that confidence," he said.
"When you have the confidence then you can express yourself and they have become masters at that."
Schmidt admits that this squad could be the best ever and pinpointed why they were coming into the match with 13 wins from 13 tests.
"It is like this squad. They have not had to play in rainy conditions in the November tests but I bet you they would be just as effective. They could adapt in any climate or terrain.
"Their scrum is capable of playing in wet conditions. This group too are capable of playing on the hoof as well.
"I mean you can be thinking you have the upper hand when you are camped on their line but in the flash of an eyelid they can have recovered the ball and be down in your 22 and you are scrambling back to try and prevent a try against you.
"With them there is no vulnerable point."