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Paul O'Connell: Schmidt was stand-offish for most of the day, probably worried about passing on anything he had

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell revealed that the Ireland squad didn't know how sick heroic coach Joe Schmidt was - despite being sent to hospital after the game for tests on suspected appendicitis.

"He was stand-offish for most of the day, probably worried about passing on anything he had. If we hand't been told, we mightn't have known about it."

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22 November 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell embraces former teammate Ronan O'Gara after the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell embraces former teammate Ronan O'Gara after the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

SPORTSFILE

22 November 2014; Ireland captain Paul O'Connell embraces former teammate Ronan O'Gara after the game. Guinness Series, Ireland v Australia. Aviva Stadium, Lansdowne Road, Dublin. Picture credit: Brendan Moran / SPORTSFILE

The Munster lock added that his side would not get carried away with World Cup talk after Ireland achieved a November clean sweep for the first time since 2006 after a thrilling 26-23 success against Australia.

"We've been here before with a good autumn and it didn't serve us well," he said. "We're eager to improve game by game. And we'll seek to do that in the Six Nations.

"They're won't be focus on achieving, we just want to improve and there is much to improve on. That focus works well for the team.

"Previous performance mans nothing once the Six Nations happens. There will be a lot of things that need to be addressed when we meet up again at Christmas.

"We need to get better and then bring those improvements into the Six Nations. It's a narrow focus and it's working for us."

Assistant coach Les Kiss, who was standing in for the ill Joe Schmidt, was pleased with his side's second-half comeback.

"We're very performance focused and we needed to get back on track in the second-half. We let ourselves down in the first-half and we did well to win 6-3 in the second-half.

"We went a bit loose but we back our players. We can still make tackles when we turn over the ball. They got into the areas with space in the game and they're very intelligent and fast and they hurt us in space. We could have closed them off a little better. Maybe we could have payed a fraction tighter at times."

Gordon D'Arcy, Conor Murray, Jonathan Sexton and Rob Kearney were all assessed for concussion injuries afterwards.

O'Connell added: "We are a lot happy with the way we finished, we've finished games poorly in recent times. They brought quality off the bench and for us to defend the way we did was very satisfying, it's an improvement and a step forward.

"It was tough physically but very fast. We started well, a few choke tackles and scored two tries. They've been paying at a high tempo in recent times and they came at us like that. They're big and fast as well and they hurt us.

"I never thought we were going to pull away but you'd like to be a bit tighter. We could have been a bit safer and we let them back in and hat's disappointing. They can hurt you from anywhere when they turn you over. We adapted a bit better in the second-half.

"The scrum was a very important moment. If you have the ball they can't attack you. Earlier, we'd turned over a lineout so we needed to keep the ball. It makes it easier to defend. Greg Feek made some adjustments during the week."

Simon Easterby said that the South African result was bittersweet for the forwards but today's result rectified matters.

"Mike Ross and Jack McGrath went 80 minutes which is a testament to them and they pushed Australia off the ball towards the end."

Online Editors