Irish are a car in need of fine-tuning - Schmidt

Joe Schmidt (AFP)
Joe Schmidt (AFP)

Dublin - Joe Schmidt compared Six Nations Grand Slam champions Ireland to a car which required a tune-up ahead of the mouth-watering clash with world champions New Zealand.

The 53-year-old coach from New Zealand has transformed his adopted country's fortunes since assuming the reins in 2013, landing three Six Nations titles and this year's Grand Slam.

But Saturday's clash of the champions of their respective hemispheres could be one-sided if the Irish repeat some of the errors in Saturday's hard-fought 28-17 win over Argentina.

"I think it demonstrates that we need to get the car tuned," Schmidt said. "We're going to need the cohesion that a smooth-running vehicle has.

"What we can't do is have untidy elements of the game because they (the All Blacks) love to play off those.

"They lap it up when things become unstructured. We have to tidy up a number of elements of play."

Schmidt, who prior to taking the Ireland job guided Irish province Leinster to successive European Cups, said the players needed to blast out of the blocks next Saturday.

Much is at stake - albeit a year away from the World Cup - in a match between the top two teams in the sport.

"Maybe it's the expectation we have of ourselves or that you guys have of us now that we come out and hit the ground running every time," said Schmidt.

"It's tougher to do than that."

However, Schmidt, who has a huge call to make as to whether to bring in world class scrum-half Conor Murray without any game time under his belt, is trying to play down the importance of the match.

"The biggest game of my career? I couldn't even tell you.

"It could be Chicago (when Ireland beat New Zealand for the first time in 2016), it could be Twickenham (the Grand Slam match), there have been so many.

"One incredibly big game was in the 2015 World Cup quarter-final against Argentina and it didn't go well."

Former school teacher Schmidt, who has proved masterful in rebuilding the side since the 2015 World Cup uncovering young talent such as James Ryan and Garry Ringrose, is due to announce his decision by the end of this month as to whether he leaves after his current contract ends at the 2019 World Cup.

"I can't tell you what it is because I've got lots on my plate right now," he said. "There's 14 days left of footy."

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