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Wednesday 1 October 2014

Schmidt sympathy for Kidney

Published 30/04/2013 | 07:01

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Joe Schmidt guided Leinster to consecutive Heineken Cup crowns in 2011 and 2012

Joe Schmidt offered a nod of sympathy to predecessor Declan Kidney after being appointed Ireland head coach until 2016.

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Kidney was told last month that his contract would not be renewed in response to a poor RBS 6 Nations that saw the team finish fifth, their worst championship performance since 1999. However, his final six months in charge were undermined by an appalling injury list that bordered on the farcical at times.

Schmidt, who will oversee the remainder of double-chasing Leinster's season, acknowledges the challenging landscape in which Kidney was forced to operate, and he said: "I certainly sympathise with the recent Irish performances and the results that didn't go their way can be mitigated by the number of key players who were missing."

He added: "It's been the same at Leinster this season. If you have injuries you're compromised and have to fight your way through those periods.

"Look at the way Munster have recharged themselves recently following the return of key players. I hope that with Ireland we'll have less injuries and give the performances that will meet the expectations of our supporters."

Schmidt guided Leinster to consecutive Heineken Cup crowns in 2011 and 12 and it was that success that identified him as the outstanding candidate for the Ireland job.

The 52-year-old New Zealander will officially begin work on July 1 with Les Kiss - the attack coach under Kidney - overseeing the summer tour to the USA and Canada.

"When I came to Leinster in 2010 I didn't really want to be a head coach, but I've really enjoyed the experience since," he said. "I'm really motivated by challenge and this is a super but intimidating one.

"If you're going to find out what you can bring to a group, what better way than to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby.

"I've had a good look at a lot of Ireland's players and when we get our collective together, we'll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible."

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