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O'Brien backs Schmidt for Irish tour role

SEAN O'BRIEN believes Leinster boss Joe Schmidt would do a great job for Ireland if he was asked to become the backs coach for this summer's tour of New Zealand.

Ireland have not had a backs coach since the World Cup, with Les Kiss deputising in the role, but he will have his chance trying to keep the mighty All-Black attack at bay.

O'Brien has backed the calls to bring Schmidt, who worked as backs coach with Clermont-Auvergne before joining Leinster, into the Irish set-up.

"It would come naturally to him - but that's up to the Ireland management. It isn't for me to say, but Joe is a world-class coach and he certainly would have input," O'Brien said

"Les is doing a fantastic job - our running and counter-attacking was good this year, we put some nice phases of play together."

Sean O'Brien was also keen to explain why Irish rugby has experienced provincial success and international frustration.

"There is a big difference, playing provincial rugby and Heineken Cup rugby than international rugby," said O'Brien. "There is a massive step up there. People think that it should just happen for the national side because the provinces are going well, but you have different combinations and different people.


"The more time we have together, the better we get - although the England game was a write off for us, we got shown up that day.

"It was an embarrassment, but other than that you can see gradually, game by game, we're getting better.

"It's up to the players to get that consistency far, far quicker than we have been.

"It's a shame we haven't won more as an Irish team and we all know that, the players, and want to make up for that down the road."

O'Brien is likely to line out for Leinster this Friday when they take on Ulster at Ravenhill, where he will come into contact with the imposing frame of Irish team-mate Stephen Ferris.

"Fez is in serious form this year. He is a handful to play on the field," he added. "We room together on Ireland trips and I get on very well with him."