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Better teams make you play better - Schmidt

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    31 Oct 2016     Getty Images

Given the All Blacks' record so far in 2016, Schmidt has a daunting task, especially since Ireland have not played together since their tour of South Africa in June while the All Blacks have had a full Investec Rugby Championship.

But that doesn't worry the New Zealander who has signed on with Ireland until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

"It's just so exciting to play them. They're such an iconic brand and they are at the peak of their powers – the most successful international team there has ever been," Schmidt told The Sunday Times.

He said given the All Blacks recent record people asked why Ireland should get themselves up to play them?

Schmidt's response was: "It's because if we don't take on those challenges, how do we get better?

"We play between 10 and 12 Test matches a year. They tend to play 14, maybe 15. They play at least half of them against the best teams in the world because the southern hemisphere dominate the top rankings.

"Therefore, are they getting further away from us? One of the ways to measure yourself and to progress is to play them.

"If you play average teams, you stay average. If you play against better opponents, you start to work out a process, a way of playing that might cope with what they deliver," he said.

Chicago would present something different for Ireland, although they could expect great support in the sporting city.

Schmidt is aware that Soldier Field offers its own challenges.

"It's 66m wide and 95m long with six metre in-goals. It's a little narrow but at the same time, I watched them play there the last time and there seemed to be plenty of room," he said.

The All Blacks beat the United States Eagles 74-6 in 2014.