Blasé Schmidt told of exit plan 'like it wasn't any kind of big deal' - Best
Ireland captain Rory Best has revealed that Joe Schmidt informed him of his decision to quit Ireland after next year's World Cup "like it wasn't any kind of big deal".
It was just hours after Ireland's first win over New Zealand on Irish soil that Schmidt broke the news to the Ulster man.
The manner of the exchange revealed much about the bond between the two and while Best claimed that Schmidt would not want his final year in charge to be "all about him", there is no doubt that the final days of his glittering tenure will bring an extra edge.
"Hopefully we can send him out with something very special, with something he deserves for the impact he's had, not just with the Irish national team, but also if you look at Irish rugby in general with what he's done at Leinster, where they are now a by-product of the foundations he put in a few years ago," said Best.
"We'll not get too hung (up) on the fact Joe is leaving. He'll expect more from us. But if you beat New Zealand in the penultimate game of 2018, you know he's going to expect more from you anyway.
"The walk-through on Monday afternoon ahead of the US game showed he expects more from us. And it's going to be the same for him. It's going to be his last run-out as Ireland coach. And when he looks back on his Ireland career, the one bit of history that's lacking for him is winning a quarter-final."
Schmidt is renowned for his relentless attention to detail, yet Best says when it came to delivering his biggest news of all, the New Zealander kept it low-key.
"Normally we finish up with the last game, you play, do a press conference, then have a bit of time to unwind and a chat on the Saturday night or the Sunday," Best said.
"But he said I didn't need to play the next week (after the New Zealand victory), but that he wanted me in because it was important to keep the standards high against the US, and that we showed the people around that we were taking that game very, very seriously.
"And that was really about it. He said that he probably wasn't going to be here post-World Cup.
"He's very ruthless, he's very driven, and very detail-driven, but at the same time he can be blasé when he wants to be. He told me like it wasn't any kind of big deal."
After a year of stunning success, Best knows they will be expected to raise the bar to another level in 2019.
"That's been the story of the last few years with this Irish team," he said. "Every year we go through another year and end up saying, 'That was an incredible 12 months, how do we top that?'" (© Daily Telegraph, London)