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Schmidt: Ireland will be back

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    17 Mar 2019     Getty Images

Coach Joe Schmidt, who had seen his side claim a first Test victory over the All Blacks on Irish soil in November and who had gone into the Six Nations with the No.2 side in the world, said Ireland would 'definitely turn up in Japan' for the World Cup, and would grow from their season.

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Ireland had won 23 of their last 26 Tests, they had finished third in the Six Nations. They had won three of the previous five Six Nations but were not as good as they wanted to be and they acknowledged Wales' performance.

Ireland would reflect on the effort then rebuild.

Schmidt said, "I'd like to think that the genuine supporter will be 100 percent behind us."

The Welsh loss was not as disappointing as the competition opening loss to England, he said.

"I felt that that game, while the score got away from us, I don't think that performance-wise, we were as far off the mark as we were at the start of the championship.

"Talking to Gats [Welsh coach Warren Gatland] even before the game and then after the game, he was talking about that extra five percent you get when you're going for a Grand Slam, that really difficult task you're trying to achieve. We benefited from that last year in Twickenham.

"The energy that gives you, the belief that you get from having accumulated those four wins and the desperation to make sure you deliver another one. The way the game started, immediately added to that belief. [Wales scored through a try to Hadleigh Parkes 70 seconds after the start]
"We then had to try to force our way back into the game. I thought we were a bit unlucky sometimes with some of the calls, but at the same time I thought they defended well and our discipline wasn't quite what we needed it to be," he said.

Schmidt, who was coaching the side in his last Six Nations game, asked the Irish public not to lose faith in the team.

"You only have to look back a year and see that England went back-to-back in the championship and ended up fifth.

"We've fought our way up to third, we're in the top half of the championship. We haven't been catastrophic but we haven't been as good as we needed to be. Today was probably an example of that," he said.

At the same time Schmidt paid tribute to rival coach and fellow New Zealander Gatland.

"I'd like to take my hat off to Wales and to Gats. To be 12 years as an international head coach, I've done six and its damned near killed me. I don't know how Gats has managed 12 and to be as competitive as they have been.

"They hadn't won one for five years, so to get this one, you could see what it meant to them, you could see what it meant to them when they were celebrating. For us, while we would have loved to have won it, hats off to Wales. What a super effort today, what a super effort for the championship," he said.