Schmidt hopes Australia furnace will produce Ireland diamonds

By Nicholas McGee 23 June 2018 532
Schmidt hopes Australia furnace will produce Ireland diamonds

Joe Schmidt praised his Ireland squad for coming through "the furnace" of a Test-series decider in Australia and hopes it will result in less experienced players becoming the "diamonds we need".

Ireland claimed a first series win in Australia since 1979 as they edged out the Wallabies 20-16 in the final match in Sydney.

The first three-Test series between the teams saw Ireland turn things around after losing the opener in Brisbane, with Jordan Larmour, Jordi Murphy and Tadhg Beirne all coming off the bench in the decider.

Only 12 of Murphy's appearances have come from the start, while fellow lock Beirne won his first cap in the second Test.

Wing Larmour only has six caps to his name but, with Ireland following up a Six Nations Grand Slam with the triumph in Australia, Schmidt is hopeful the trio can develop ahead of next year's World Cup.

"I think a heck of a lot of it tonight was about character. Maybe we should have got a little bit more out of that first half," Schmidt told Sky Sports.

"The Wallabies then came back and they came back in waves, but I think credit to Jordan Larmour, Jordi Murphy, Tadhg Beirne for coming into a real furnace and to come out on the other side.

"I hope that furnace helps them become the diamonds that we need."

Flanker CJ Stander scored Ireland's sole try, Johnny Sexton kicking the remainder of their points, the fly-half's 79th-minute penalty giving them a four-point cushion that proved decisive.

"We knew it was going to be a cup final for us coming down here, especially as it was the last game of the season so I think we just got out there and gave it 100 per cent, " Stander said to Sky Sports.

"We knew Australia would attack us from minute one. We pride ourselves on our defence. They came at us wave after wave for the last 20 minutes and we stood up and I am immensely proud of the guys."

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Nicholas McGee