Schmidt salutes his new boys after Ireland batter the Boks
Ireland gave South Africa a woeful start to their four-Test European tour with a record beating at a full Lansdowne Road yesterday. In a game that pushed Ireland further ahead of the Boks, they followed up the win in Cape Town two summers ago with a 38-3 scoreline to eclipse the previous best - 32-15 in 2006.
It wasn't a result the bookies saw coming, no more than Joe Schmidt.
"No, not at all," he said. "In the last four games against South Africa they've mostly been one- or two-score margins. I think the scoreline flattered us a bit. We looked fresher out there and that helps."
Schmidt will likely be picking from a full squad against Fiji at the same venue on Saturday. Fiji lost to Italy yesterday, with former Leinster player Ian McKinley making his debut for the Azzurri off the bench.
The only casualty in the Ireland camp was Peter O'Mahony, who went off with a cut to his ear which the coach said was still causing him discomfort after the game.
"The new guys coming in did a fantastic job with the spine of the team which was very experienced," added Schmidt. "I think that allows young players have a degree of comfort in an uncomfortable situation, which any Test match is. It's not the first time I've seen Joey Carbery coming on and with his first touch lobbing the ball on the spot.
"It's about building confidence and experience in those younger players and I hope we'll continue to do that in this Guinness series, and through to the Six Nations."
New cap Bundee Aki was in that group, and Schmidt was very pleased with the way he went. As was the man himself. "It was good," he said. "It's been a long journey for myself and my family, my friends as well. I thank the Lord for this game and I thank the brothers here for helping me out for the two weeks. It's been a hell of a journey and a hell of a night.
"Putting on an Irish jersey, a country's jersey, is a privilege. You don't take anything for granted - whatever jersey I wear I always wear it with pride and I also do the best I can. I try to be the best team-mate I can be, the best player and it's a privilege for me to put on the Irish jersey, the amount of supporters that were texting me and supporting me all week - I can't thank everyone enough."
Sunday Indo Sport