'I walked in the door and Luke is seizing on the ground and Kelly is alongside him. That's the reality'
Joe Schmidt has opened up on the aftermath of Ireland's World Cup exit in an exclusive interview, telling Brendan Fanning that it was difficult to recover from the "emotional rollercoaster" of his team's collapse in Japan
In a candid interview to be published on Independent.ie and the Sunday Independent this weekend, Joe Schmidt is honest about his despair following Ireland's poor showing in Japan, but says that returning home to his wife Kelly and son Luke, who suffers from epilepsy, put things in perspective.
"I walked in the door after Richie Murphy dropped me back on the Tuesday evening, after the miserable extra few days we had to spend in Japan, and Luke is seizing on the ground and Kelly is alongside him. That's the reality," Schmidt said.
After a stellar 2018 that saw Ireland win a Six Nations Grand Slam, a test series in Australia and record a win over the All Blacks at the Aviva Stadium, Schmidt's side struggled to reach the same heights in 2019.
Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.
Two heavy Six Nations defeats to England and Wales saw the team's confidence take a hit ahead of the World Cup, where the team suffered a shock loss to Japan in the pool stages before their tournament ended once again at the quarter-final stage with a 32-point defeat to New Zealand.
What made things sting even more for Schmidt was that the World Cup marked the end of his decade coaching in Ireland, having spent three seasons with Leinster before taking on the national team.
"I live and die by my job, but I rode this emotional rollercoaster during the lead-up to the World Cup and during the World Cup. Kelly got us away for six days in Spain and it was only after that that I actually felt right. That it was time to move on, that I had to shake this, this kind of heaviness.
"Because it does linger."
Schmidt also revealed that a visit from one of his legendary former players helped ease the pain following Ireland's latest quarter-final exit.
"Paul O'Connell came out and saw me, we had a really good few hours," Schmidt said.
"We had a really good chat. He is a quality individual," he added.