Steve Hansen's high praise for Joe Schmidt after Ireland end New Zealand run

‘That’s why Ireland want to keep him and why New Zealand wanted to bring him home’

Record-breaking New Zealand boss Steve Hansen has hailed Ireland's Joe Schmidt as one of the world's best coaches.

All Blacks head coach Hansen praised his fellow Kiwi Schmidt in the wake of Ireland's 40-29 victory over New Zealand at Chicago's Soldier Field on Saturday.

Ireland ended their 111-year wait for a victory over New Zealand in the US, cutting short the back-to-back world champions’ record winning streak at 18 matches.

Hansen also admitted the New Zealand Rugby Union (NZRU) had worked hard to prise Schmidt away from Ireland and back into their Super Rugby coaching set-up.


“He’s probably one of the best coaches around,” said Hansen of Ireland boss Schmidt.

“He’s meticulous in his work ethic, a good analyst of the game and that’s why Ireland want to keep him and why New Zealand wanted to bring him home.”

Schmidt only signed his new Ireland contract two weeks ago, committing his future here until after the 2019 World Cup.

The 51-year-old had seriously considered taking a coaching job with either the Highlanders or the Chiefs, but eventually opted to remain in Dublin.

Family concerns and the desire to lead Ireland past the quarter-finals of a World Cup for the first time tipped the balance in the end however.

Schmidt has already assured his place in Irish folklore courtesy of Saturday’s victory, whatever happens next, but New Zealand coach Hansen expects his countryman to continue to guide Ireland on an upward curve.

Hansen believes Schmidt can rightly be viewed among the sport’s shrewdest minds, after adding the maiden All Blacks scalp to Ireland’s first win over the Springboks on South African soil in June.

“It’s good for Joe, and Joe’s a really good man, I’ve got a lot of time for him as all our coaching staff has; he’s a top bloke,” said Hansen of Schmidt.

“He’s working hard and trying to do something with Ireland and he’s having some success.

“They’re having a great year, they’ve knocked over South Africa and they’ve knocked us over. So he’ll be feeling pretty pleased with himself and so he should.

“He’s done a good job with them and the rest of his crew are supporting him.

“So I don’t think there’s any big significance.

“Some people will get excited about it I suppose but it doesn’t make any difference to us who it is.

“You don’t like losing at the best of times but in saying that you have to accept it.

“Thankfully we get another opportunity in a couple of weeks’ time and we’ll see if we’re good enough then.”

Hansen defended the decision to parachute flanker Jerome Kaino in at lock for the defeat to Ireland.

Brodie Retallick and Sam Whitelock missed out through injury and – with Luke Romano having headed home after a family bereavement – Kaino stepped into the breach.

The peerless Retallick is jetting out to join the All Blacks and will be available for Saturday’s Italy clash in Rome after beating concussion: but Hansen said he would have no qualms slotting Kaino in at lock in future.

“A lot of people are going to say that Jerome shouldn’t have started at lock, but our scrum was really good,” said Hansen.

“He scrummed well, the lineout wasn’t his problem, it was a throwing problem, and Dane Coles has been throwing well all year, so we’re not going to lose too much sleep over that, we’ll get him sorted pretty quickly.

“That middle-of-the-park role was new to him and he probably over-thought it a wee bit, therefore didn’t carry as strongly as he possibly could.

“But before the match you’d say that would be his strength, and the other thing, I think the young fella (Scott Barrett) came on and played really.

“But it’s about making sure in the long-term he gets that opportunity to play well. You wouldn’t want him to come on and have a really hard first half and lose his confidence.

“So while he came on and did really well, do we know if he’d have done that in the first half? Don’t know under the circumstances.

“So I’m still happy with the decision we made.

“A lot of people say it’s his fault the lineout, but it certainly wasn’t his fault.

“I’ve had a yarn to him and he shouldn’t be beating himself up, he’s done nothing wrong.

“We probably won’t have to put JK (Kaino) back in there because Brodie’s on the plane and he’s available for Italy if we need him.

“And Scotty’s now had a taste of it, and the longer he’s here the better he’s going to get. But if we had to go back there we probably would.”

Centre George Moala has damaged elbow ligaments and will miss the rest of New Zealand's northern hemisphere tour.

But playmaker Ryan Crotty could yet beat a hamstring problem in time for the France clash in Paris on November 26th.

New Zealand have called up Seta Tamanivalu to replace Moala, with the Crusaders centre already in London after helping the Barbarians to a 31-31 draw with South Africa at Wembley on Saturday.

“George’s elbow, he’s pulled the ligaments and tendons off his elbow,” said Hansen of Moala’s injury.

“He won’t need an operation, but he will be out for the rest of the tour so he’s going home today.

“Ryan Crotty has got a hamstring injury which we think should be right by France so he’s going to stay.

“Whilst everyone else is sore the sorest part of them is their pride, so they’re fit to play.

“Seta is going to come in. He’s already over with the Baa-Baas, so he’s going to meet us in London.

“It’s a great opportunity, he’s been in and out of the team a bit this year.

“For a lot of people, coming into the team is a bit overwhelming because there’s so much pressure. But once you’ve been in a couple of times I think it becomes a little easier, so I’m looking forward to how he goes.

“Midfield has been the cursed position this year, we’ve lost a few of them and a few guys (due to) retiring.”