Joe Schmidt: I'm blown away by a special Irish performance

New Zealand were beaten at Soldier Field in Chicago as Ireland claimed victory over the All Blacks

Joe Schmidt, Ireland, New Zealand,

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

Joe Schmidt was full of praise for his players on Saturday night as they beat the All Blacks at Solider Field in Chicago. 

In a fiercely contested contest, there were plenty of positives for the Irish head coach to pick out of a historic win, but speaking after the game, Schmidt hailed the display by his players as "special", given the score they managed to put on the board. 

"How special was the performance? To put 40 points on an All Black team...I'm blown away, I'm blown away by the effort they made, by the determination they showed."

In his post match press conference, he was also glowing in his praise of his players in a hugely difficult game. However, he also noted that despite all the talk of the record and the fact that the side they faced were World Cup winners, injuries and absences played a part in Ireland getting that long-awaited victory.

"I hoped [that performance] was coming, but I think the players determined that it did arrive," he said

"To be fair to the All Blacks they were missing a number of second rows, and that allowed us access into the game. They missed a few lineouts and [Rory] Besty and CJ [Stander] cleaned up a few, and to gave us the position that we needed to try and put some pressure on them in that first half. 

"At the same time, over half the lads were playing PRO 12 rugby last weekend. To click everything together as quickly as we possibly could, we tried to have some consistency with some previous combinations, so that we could try to be as cohesive as possible, and I really thought there was some fantastic cohesion out there.

"But, you know sometimes, it's just, it's character more than cohesion and I think that was really evident today."

Singling out Leinster's Joey Carbery, he highlighted what a massive challenge it was to step into the breach when Sexton went off. 

"I just thought that young Joey came in, what a massive stage to have to enter on for your test debut. I thought there were a couple of wayward kicks but he made some good decisions."

With another game to come against the same opposition at home, and more fixtures to come this November, Schmidt was clear that there wouldn't be too much celebrating yet.

"I think we talked all week that it was a reference point for us, that it was a starting point for the series of games that we've got coming up. That's why Besty is probably complaining that I'm not going to give them too much time to enjoy it!"

"I think I inadvertently said something during the week like 'if you win here I don't really care too much about what you do in the rest of the series,' so I probably put my foot in it there. Besty, being the stickler that he is for detail, he's going to remind me of that all night, and probably on the flight home as well, where there's an alcohol ban...which will probably be lifted as soon as the boys sit down."