Schmidt determined to build on 'devastating' late defeat
A DEVASTATED Joe Schmidt has urged his Ireland team to learn from their heartbreaking, last-gasp defeat to New Zealand.
The coach almost manufactured a famous first Irish win over the All Blacks in 28 attempts but saw his side come up just short in the final play as Ryan Crotty and Aaron Cruden broke Irish hearts at the death.
After a disjointed November series to date, there were signs of real progress for Schmidt's side, who more than matched the history-chasing world champions for much of the game and looked well worth their 15-point lead at half-time.
Schmidt admitted that the loss was right up there with his most disappointing days in the sport and lamented the lapses of concentration in the final throes that allowed New Zealand to march fully 60 metres to score the decisive injury-time try.
Ireland have put in big, one-off performances in recent years and not been able to back them up and the new coach wants the level of performance shown at Lansdowne Road to be the benchmark going into next year's Six Nations.
"This four weeks was about the Six Nations," he said. "We play in a competition for the Six Nations and I think we would judge ourselves on the Six Nations, so we put some pressure on ourselves to try to be a good as we can be in the Six Nations.
"Plotting these four weeks was unknown territory, but I feel I know a little bit more about it now.
"The players know a little bit more about where we were looking to get to and I think we showed a bit of structure attack-wise and defensively today – we certainly showed a lot of character.
"To push the best team in the world, the best team there's been in the world for the last few years, as close as we did, while devastating, is a small vote of confidence for us.
"But at the same time France did a great job in last year's autumn series and then didn't put that into the Six Nations. The challenge is to get everyone back together again and reproduce what was probably a benchmark performance today."