Schmidt Hansen not playing mind games

Schmidt, however, said he wouldn't advise the All Blacks coach to change jobs and become a bookmaker.

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Ireland's rugby head coach Joe Schmidt, seen in February 2016, said he think's New Zealand's All Blacks are "still in a really stong position" despite Ireland's historic win in Chicago play

Ireland's rugby head coach Joe Schmidt, seen in February 2016, said he think's New Zealand's All Blacks are "still in a really stong position" despite Ireland's historic win in Chicago

(AFP/File)
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Ireland coach Joe Schmidt says he takes his New Zealand opposite number Steve Hansen seriously when the latter claims the world champions are the underdogs for Saturday's Test in Dublin.

Schmidt, like Hansen a New Zealander, added however he wouldn't advise the All Blacks coach to change jobs and become a bookmaker.

Hansen, named world coach of the year for the fourth time in five years last Sunday, surprised many, not least the bookmaking fraternity, by saying based on the historic 40-29 defeat by the Irish, their first win over the Kiwis in 29 meetings, in Chicago a fortnight ago the All Blacks would start in the unfamiliar position of underdog on Saturday.

"I don't think so, I know Steve pretty well," said Schmidt when asked about Hansen indulging in mind games.

"Based on a recent result he's put his summation on that. I don't think he believes we'll pay too much heed to that, because we know the quality they are.

"Part of that quality is their coaching team. I learned a lot off some of the people who are involved there.

"I think they are still in a really strong position."

Schmidt, who this year committed himself to Ireland till the 2019 World Cup just as Hansen did with New Zealand, said it would be wrong to believe the Irish won because the All Blacks approached the game in Chicago in a complacent frame of mind having just set a new world mark of 18 for successive Test wins.

"We just want to try to focus on our own performance, try to use Chicago as a reference point," said the 51-year-old coach.

"I certainly don't believe that there was any disrespect from the All Blacks or arrogance in Chicago.

"We've got huge respect for them, how could you not have for a team that's won the last two World Cups."

Schmidt, who has turned Ireland's fortunes around since he replaced Declan Kidney in 2013 guiding them to two Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015, said the way the Irish odds for a win on Saturday had come down since Chicago reflected what an impression their win had made.

"You'd love to think that we're favourites wouldn't you?" said Schmidt.

"But I wouldn't suggest that Steve Hansen become a bookmaker!

"I think we're at about six to one not that we're allowed to indulge in that (betting).

"It's a bit better than the 13 to one we were in Chicago.

"You certainly wouldn't put us as favourites.

"I think everyone is due a hiccup."

On the personnel front Schmidt restricted himself to just the one change to the starting XV from Chicago bringing in experienced flanker Sean O'Brien for the injured Jordi Murphy.

O'Brien, 29 and capped 43 times, has had an injury-plagued career and Schmidt had not been willing to risk him in Chicago despite the player voicing his opinion he was fit to play.

"We thought it was probably better that Sean (O'Brien) start rather than come off the bench," explained Schmidt.

"He needs to feel his way into the game, with the warm-up too.

Rob Kearney (S) and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrate following their rugby team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago play

Rob Kearney (S) and Jamie Heaslip of Ireland celebrate following their rugby team's 40-29 victory during the international match between Ireland and New Zealand at Soldier Field on November 5, 2016 in Chicago

(Getty/AFP/File)

"Josh (Van der Flier and another flanker) did such a good job off the bench in Chicago that his versatility will be a big boost later in the match."

Victory on Saturday at Lansdowne Road for the hosts would be the first time since South Africa in 2009 the All Blacks have lost successive Tests to the same opposition.

Team (15-1):

Rob Kearney; Andrew Trimble, Jared Payne, Robbie Henshaw, Simon Zebo; Jonathan Sexton, Conor Murray; Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien, CJ Stander; Devin Toner, Donnacha Ryan; Tadgh Furlong, Rory Best (capt), Jack McGrath

Replacements (16-23): Sean Cronin, Cian Healy, Finlay Bealham, Iain Henderson, Josh Van der Flier, Kieran Marmion, Paddy Jackson, Garry Ringrose

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