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Schmidt on mend after post-match appendix operation

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Joe Schmidt shares a joke with Australian counterpart Michael Cheika

Joe Schmidt shares a joke with Australian counterpart Michael Cheika

SPORTSFILE

Joe Schmidt shares a joke with Australian counterpart Michael Cheika

HE HAS coached Ireland to a memorable 2014 but Joe Schmidt will recall Saturday's win over Australia with mixed emotions after spending the night at St Vincent's Hospital where he had his appendix removed.

The coach became unwell on Friday night and is understood not to have slept on the eve of the game, but he managed his way through the pain barrier before being assessed in the medical centre under the West Stand after the game.

From there, he made the short trip to hospital where he was operated on. An IRFU statement said he was recovering well and thanked the staff for their help.

Before he sought treatment, the coach did say a few words to RTE television and expressed his "relief" at the win, while lamenting his side's inability to hold on to their early first-half lead.

"Paul O'Connell led from the front with a couple of tackles in that Australian attack, a couple of guys got with him and Ian Madigan got the poach," he said.

"You're 17-0 up after 17 minutes, it's frustrating that you give them an opportunity to get into the game and they don't need too many invites. It was some super play from Nick Phipps, they've so many dangerous players so we couldn't afford to be loose.

"We struggled to win collisions in the first half, they really came off the line at us. It was what we expected.

"We tried to get more line-speed ourselves. We were pretty passive in the first half and that wasn't what we had planned. They were the opposite, they bullied us in the first half and that made it difficult for us to get any structure because we were going back to go forward."

With the head honcho under the weather, it was left to assistant coach Les Kiss to reflect on 2014. "An interesting year," he surmised. "Obviously a lot of good things have happened for us.

"I think the way we will truly reflect upon it we'll be saying, 'The reason we're in the position that we are at the moment is because we did take each day at a time, we did take each training session at a time' and, not sounding like a broken record, but each Test match at a time, and take the 'learnings' from each one.

"At half-time we were pretty frank as a group, to say what we needed to do to get back into a position of managing the Test match. We'll reflect on it in the way that we have throughout the year. We won't be getting too far ahead of ourselves, that's for sure."

Schmidt's illness didn't affect the dynamic in the coach's box, according to the assistant, who said the New Zealander got on with the job despite being in some pain.

"Things just rolled along as they normally do. Joe was in some discomfort and we all just rowed in as we normally do to get the job done," he said.

The defence coach was full of praise for the team's resilience during the final stages when the Wallabies probed and prodded, looking for an opening to win the game.

"Making those minutes count right until the full 80, that's been a focus no doubt and I think it's testament to what our front-row, Paulie (O'Connell), the tight five in particular, were very aggressive in how they got off the line which gave us a chance to put it behind the gain-line a little bit more, which then gave us a chance to put them under pressure and make them play on the back foot.

"We all had heart palpitations when they brought Kurtley Beale, Quade Cooper and Will Genia on and they started to play with some really smart, dangerous football. So, in that last phase, to get off the line as a unit the way we did was very pleasing."

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