Any thoughts that Ireland’s loss to the All Blacks last month may have been some kind of moral victory have been quashed by Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt.
That defeat, he conceded, was the worst of his career to date after targeting the game as the definitive match from their November series.
“Yeah. Unequivocally. Just because you can’t come that close and not deliver the final bit. There are elements of it that we didn’t control but there are elements that we did control that we didn’t quite nail and you can’t afford to grab the tag of gallant loser,” Schmidt remarked at the Ulster Bank League Awards yesterday in Lansdowne FC.
“It was certainly our target. The first thing we did when we got into camp for those four weeks was to start looking at the All Blacks. If we were to say that we had one massive target, it was that game.
“We didn’t get great luck. We had one (shot) back off the post and one narrow miss that would have finished them.
“Even with the draw they get another shot at the conversion, but that’s our fault. If Aaron Cruden lifts his foot that doesn’t mean he has begun his approach and Nigel Owens can easily defend that.”
Although the Ireland camp are still reflecting on the way the Autumn Internationals panned out, they are eager to look towards the future, and Schmidt revealed their 2014 Six Nations campaign will be built on a week-by-week basis rather than focusing on one outing in particular.
“I think we’re going to go week-by-week. We have a bit of a system that we can play attack and defence with — so we’ll now try to cater for that week to week. You know, Scotland, Wales, England, those three teams will be the sole targets and they’ll be sole targets week by week.”
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