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Joe Schmidt: Ireland can only get better

Ireland wins Six Nations: France 20-22 Ireland in Pictures Close

Brian O'Driscoll with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

Brian O'Driscoll with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

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Cian Healy lifts the 6 nations trophy as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland.

Cian Healy lifts the 6 nations trophy as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland.

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Jonathan Sexton poses with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland.

Jonathan Sexton poses with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland.

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Brian O'Driscoll poses for a selfie

Brian O'Driscoll poses for a selfie

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless

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Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless

Ireland captain Paul O'Connell lifts the trophy while head coach Joe Schmidt (left) looks on as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless

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Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll (left) celebrates with team mate Fergus McFadden on the final whistle after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll (left) celebrates with team mate Fergus McFadden on the final whistle after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and Dean Kearney of Ireland celebrate with the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and Dean Kearney of Ireland celebrate with the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland celebrate winning the Six Nations at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll celebrates after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll and Dave Kearney (left) celebrate after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll afterthe Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Paul O'Connell lifts the 6 Nations trophy after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll after the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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 Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.

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Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll  (C) of Ireland celebrates with his team-mates as they lift the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll (C) of Ireland celebrates with his team-mates as they lift the trophy after winning the six nations championship with a 22-20 victory over France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland and Brian O'Driscoll celebrate with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Captain, Paul O'Connell of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland with Shane Horgan (L) and Ronan O'Gara after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland with Shane Horgan (L) and Ronan O'Gara after winning the Six Nations Championship during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland and team mates celebrate with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland celebrates with the Six Nations Championship trophy during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland fans show their support outside of the stadium before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland fans show their support outside of the stadium before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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An Ireland fan is seen during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

An Ireland fan is seen during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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A general view during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

A general view during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the National Anthems before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the National Anthems before the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the national anthem the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland during the national anthem the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland smiles before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland smiles before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland looks on before the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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France fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

France fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Ireland fans show their support during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Francois Hollande, President of France with Albert II, Prince of Monaco during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Francois Hollande, President of France with Albert II, Prince of Monaco during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton dives in to score a try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton dives in to score a try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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 Jonny Sexton of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Jonny Sexton of Ireland scores the first try during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by France's Remi Tales during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll is tackled by France's Remi Tales during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Brian O'Driscoll during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Andrew Trimble dives in to score his side's second try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Andrew Trimble dives in to score his side's second try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Dave Kearney of Ireland is tackled during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Dave Kearney of Ireland is tackled during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Jamie Heaslip of Ireland makes a break during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Jonny Sexton of Ireland looks on before a kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Jonny Sexton of Ireland looks on before a kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland runs at the french defence during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland runs at the french defence during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Brice Dulin of France score a try for France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Brice Dulin of France score a try for France during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15:  Jonny Sexton goes to kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

PARIS, FRANCE - MARCH 15: Jonny Sexton goes to kick during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton runs in to score his second and his side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton runs in to score his second and his side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates with team mate Jamie Heaslip (left) after he scores his second and their side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton (right) celebrates with team mate Jamie Heaslip (left) after he scores his second and their side's third try during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

Brian O'Driscoll of Ireland applies an ice pack to his face during the RBS Six Nations match between France and Ireland at Stade de France on March 15, 2014 in Paris, France. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton carried off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton carried off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Ireland's Jonathan Sexton is stretchered off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

Ireland's Jonathan Sexton is stretchered off during the Six Nations match at the Stade de France, Paris, France.

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Brian O'Driscoll with supporters as the Ireland team arrive at Dublin Airport, Ireland. Pic Brian Lawless/PA Wire.

You ain't seen nothing yet. That was the message from Ireland coach Joe Schmidt as his Six Nations heroes made a triumphant return to Dublin yesterday.

As far as Schmidt is concerned, the tense 22-20 victory over France in Paris which clinched the title is only the start of a new era.

"They've very much earned the right to be champions," said the 48-year-old Kiwi (right). "I don't think they ever sat back and just said 'Look, we've got a talented group, we're capable'. They said 'We've got to work hard and get our noses over the line'."

Listing the qualities that had turned the side which finished second-bottom 12 months ago into title winners, Schmidt cited: "Work ethic, unity.

"I think they're just a great group of rugby players who have worked really hard and I thought we saw some trust in each other that has developed with the group that's been there."

Ulster's Chris Henry, who had an outstanding series after being handed the potentially thankless job of taking over from injured British and Irish Lion Sean O'Brien, was upbeat of what lies ahead.

"When we have been really clinical, when we know what we're about and execute the way Joe wants us to do it, we are a dangerous side," the big flanker said.

"So I can't see why we can't move forward. We have to move forward – it would be a shame not to."

Further Reading

Belfast Telegraph


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