Ireland v New Zealand: Joe Schmidt says there is no gulf in class

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt celebrates with Donnacha Ryan after the 40-29 victory over New Zealand in Chicago
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt celebrates with Donnacha Ryan after the 40-29 victory over New Zealand in Chicago

Ireland's 40-29 win over New Zealand proves there is "no chasm" between northern and southern hemisphere teams, says head coach Joe Schmidt.

The Irish ran in five tries in Chicago on Saturday night to end an 111-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks.

Schmidt praised his team's display but said New Zealand, unbeaten in their previous 18 games, were under strength.

"The reality is that we did get them when they were a little bit vulnerable," said Schmidt.

"I remember after the World Cup and people said 'why is there such a big gap between north and south?' But there's no chasm there.

"It only takes a little bit of fluctuation for someone to be off their game and another team to knock them over."

Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Jared Payne and Sean Cronin give Ireland's sparkling win over New Zealand the thumbs up
Conor Murray, Simon Zebo, Jared Payne and Sean Cronin give Ireland's win over New Zealand the thumbs up

Schmidt said Ireland targeted Kiwi flanker Jerome Kaino, who was shifted into the second row.

The peerless Brodie Retallick is expected to be fit to solve New Zealand's lock crisis for the 19 November rematch at Aviva Stadium.

"I'd have no doubt Retallick will be fit to contest the match in Dublin - and he'll change a fair bit of what they can deliver at lineout time.

"That's why I said that the All Blacks were a little bit under-staffed, and you wouldn't say we were at full strength necessarily but we were at full fitness, and that was what we planned all along."

Ireland captain Rory Best leads the celebrations at Soldier Field after the historic 40-29 win over New Zealand
Ireland captain Rory Best leads the celebrations at Soldier Field after the historic 40-29 win over New Zealand

Schmidt described the anticipated rise in expectation on Ireland as "daunting".

While he said he was "blown away" by the victory, he called for a sense of perspective.

"I think what it does demonstrate there is that any team is susceptible if there are injuries," he added.

"Take out those three second rows, and you get a few injuries during the game as well, and you can be vulnerable.

"I certainly would sympathise with the All Blacks a little bit because that wasn't the All Blacks team that we've seen through the Rugby Championship."