Ireland will give me one last great day at Aviva: Joe Schmidt
Ireland boss Joe Schmidt is ready for the start of an emotional long goodbye when his side take on France at the Aviva Stadium tomorrow (3pm kick-off).
Ireland's most successful ever rugby coach will walk from the job after the World Cup later this year and, while there will be two warm-up games in Dublin before that tournament, this weekend will be his last full-blooded encounter in the city he's called home since 2010.
"I briefly mentioned it to my wife yesterday when I called in at home and it will be hard to say goodbye to it," Schmidt said when naming his team which boasts four Ulstermen yesterday.
"We've had some great days and occasions in the Aviva and it would be great if this was another. Players play under those circumstances all the time. You never know when your next cap is coming and coaches are probably like that as well.
"You could be chopped at any time. It's about the players this week. They take control and put the performance together. We are going to move on. These are things you will miss for sure."
There isn't much time for sentiment though, with Ireland still looking to fully bounce back from the defeat to England when they were last at home some five weeks ago.
That result plus a failure to fully convince in wins over Scotland and Italy since has raised questions over whether the side peaked last year.
"You don't have to look too far back to see that the All Blacks are the only team that stay consistently at the top," Schmidt countered.
"England won a Six Nations Grand Slam. They get there the next year and they are fifth. How does that happen with most of the personnel the same?
"Every game is a new experience and a new challenge and I hope we can demonstrate that we are up for this challenge on Sunday."