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O’Driscoll hopes departing Schmidt can sign off in style at Rugby World Cup

Brian O’Driscoll has hailed Joe Schmidt for working “wonders” with Ireland and hopes the head coach can end his tenure by lifting the Rugby World Cup.

Schmidt will step down after the tournament in Japan, with Andy Farrell, part of his coaching team, stepping up to replace him.

Current boss Schmidt, 53, was named World Rugby Coach of the Year last November and has taken Ireland to another level since taking over in 2013.

Ireland legend O’Driscoll can understand why Schmidt opted to move on and feels it would be fitting if he ended his reign by guiding Ireland to a first World Cup triumph.

The former Ireland captain, a HSBC ambassador, told Omnisport: “Five years is quite a long time in any coach’s cycle. I think if for no other reason from his own point of view, to freshen up a bit.

“He’s been coaching non-stop for a long time, from Clermont through to Leinster through to Ireland. I think coaches sometimes need a bit of downtime, re-evaluate their philosophies, the way they go about coaching teams and the way they think about the game.

“He’s done wonders for Ireland, we’ve beaten every team in the world here in the last two years, we’ve won grand slams, we’ve won tours away from Ireland. He’s left the team in great shape, hopefully we can leave on a high with maybe a World Cup win.”

O’Driscoll welcomed the appointment of defence coach Farrell as Schmidt’s successor.

“I think that continuity is really important. Andy’s come in and done a great job the last three or four years and the lads really like him.” the ex-British and Irish Lions skipper said.

“It’s the next progression for Andy as well as a coach to step up to head coach and bring in a new team around him, have that continuity. It’s very difficult if you finish one cycle and you lose some key players and you lose a coach it tends to take a few years to build that again.

“Keeping some of the same faces in there is important to maintain the lofty standards and ambitions that this Irish team has.”

 

Brian O’Driscoll was talking on behalf of The Open patron HSBC. Ahead of The Open, Brian launched HSBC’s latest social challenge, the #OneHandedChip alongside Rory O’Connor, a young golfer from Northern Ireland who suffers from cerebral palsy. For more information, please visit: https://twitter.com/HSBC_Sport/status/1147102991553585153

KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta

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