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Schmidt aims to play spoiler's role

All Blacks fan Joe Schmidt would love to ruin New Zealand's perfect year.

The Ireland head coach is a proud Kiwi and New Zealand supporter.

But he vowed there will be no split loyalties when his charges host the All Blacks in Dublin on Sunday.

New Zealand are one victory away from a 100 per cent 14-win season, a feat never achieved in the professional era.

And former New Zealand schoolteacher Schmidt has no qualms about scuppering the All Blacks' shot at history.

Schmidt said: "I'm an All Blacks fan, but I'm more passionate about my job.

"I would say I'm particularly passionate about this group of people I've been with in the last four weeks.

"Loyalties from a distance are superseded by loyalties that are very close to you.

"They are a good group of men as well as highly-talented rugby players.

"There's no mixed emotions building up, there's only one emotion, and that's trying to get the competitive edge and helping them do that."

Schmidt has tasted success at every club turn, from winning the Ranfurly Shield with Bay of Plenty to lifting the French Top 14 title with Clermont Auvergne and landing consecutive Heineken Cup triumphs with Leinster.

The 48-year-old knows Ireland must follow in the All Blacks' footsteps for his career trajectory to keep on soaring.

The ex-head teacher said it is New Zealand's all-court game that sets them apart from the rest of the world.

Schmidt said: "It's their ability to play whatever type of rugby is required in the conditions.

"They have the strength of pack and set-piece to play in the rain, and that makes them very difficult to beat.

"I know they do a massive amount of work on the ball in the air.

"It is no surprise that guys like Kieran Read are very good in the air, their whole back-three are very good in the air.

"They kick a lot of contested kicks, they do that because they back themselves to get the ball back and they've done the work to do that.

"If there aren't great conditions they can go to those defaults and still be able to get the better of their opponents.

"But their ability to play whatever style is required, to play on the hoof and transform situations where they're under pressure into sudden pressure points for the opposition is incredible.

"The amount of times you see guys having the All Blacks under pressure, there's a lost ball and you're scrambling back to save a try in front of your own posts - where moments earlier you're putting pressure on them.

"They have such depth in their squad that selection-wise, vulnerable moments don't exist for them.

"So you have to force vulnerable moments in the 80 minutes you're on the field."


From Belfast Telegraph