Friday 23 February 2018

WATCH - Paul O'Connell is bullish about Ireland's chances of finally beating the All Blacks

Paul O’Connell wants Joe Schmidt to extend his contract with Ireland
Paul O’Connell wants Joe Schmidt to extend his contract with Ireland
Cormac Byrne

Cormac Byrne

Munster and Ireland legend Paul O'Connell believes it's imperative that the IRFU hold on to Joe Schmidt until the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.

The Irish Independent are reporting this morning that Schmidt has agreed to a new two-year contract extension that will see him remain in charge of Ireland until 2019.

Schmidt is a target of a number of Super Rugby sides in New Zealand but will turn down the chance to return home in order to build on the success he has already achieved with Ireland.

Speaking at the announcement of  Aldi's sponsorship of the IRFU'S PLAY RUGBY initiative, O'Connell was adamant that the Kiwi is the man to lead Ireland over the next three years.

"I think it's massively important (that Joe Schmidt stays on as coach)," he said.

"I think he's without a doubt one of the best coaches in the world. I think he has put together a brilliant coaching team, brilliant backroom staff and Ireland seem to be getting better and better.

"I think we should have won the Test series without a shadow of a doubt down in South Africa.

"Two out of three Six Nations championships... I think it's really important he stays on and hopefully he will."

Next on Joe Schmidt's agenda will be a busy autumn schedule which sees Ireland take on the All Blacks twice. In Chicago (November 5) and Dublin (November 19), with games against Canada (November 12) and Australia (November 26) to be negotiated also.

O'Connell was bullish about Ireland's chances of achieving a first ever win over New Zealand.

"They're in the best position ever going into a match against New Zealand. It's great we're playing them twice," he added.

"I suppose where Clive Woodward was successful with England, that's something he did. He tried to get as many fixtures as he could against Southern Hemisphere nations.

"At the end of this season we'll have played Southern Hemisphere nations six times, so I think it will be good for us and our standard will raise.

"You see it with Argentina now in the Rugby Championship. If you go in against those teams and play consistently your standards are raised.

"Whether we can get the job done or not I don't know. I think we'll give it a good shot."

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