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Schmidt: We've got to keep it up

COACH Joe Schmidt feels Darren Cave's frustration over not playing more for Ireland is tied up in Brian O'Driscoll's longevity.

"I think some of his frustration is borne out by the fact that Ireland's best ever rugby player is playing in the same position for those years that he hasn't been selected," he said.

Schmidt tried to pour cold water over the media fire lit by Ulster centre Cave claiming his "face doesn't fit" for Ireland.

"Darren rang me this morning and is pretty disappointed with the article," said Schmidt.

"He was super in camp during the Autumn and we've talked about some things that he's working on and we're looking for him to deliver."

Can Ireland really maintain the level of intensity they showed against New Zealand all the way through the 2014 Six Nations?

"I think we can play to that level. Is that good enough to win the Six Nations? I can't say because I don't know what other teams are going to bring."

He wants the Irish public to get right behind his players in the same way they did when New Zeland came to town.

"The thing I felt was that half the supporters were there to support Ireland and half were there because they love to watch the All-Blacks play.

"I think the challenge for the Irish rugby player is to be able to deliver what we delivered against the All Blacks so that people come to watch Ireland regardless of who they are playing.

"That's a massive challenge for the team and if the team steps up and accepts it then people have something to be excited about and the players would also be uplifted.

"It's kind of a reciprocal relationship that one engenders an increase in the other. The more you can maintain a high level there then the better the outcome can be."