Ireland: World Cup became 'self-consuming monster' says Joe Schmidt

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Joe Schmidt says protracted build to World Cup saw Ireland lose focus

Joe Schmidt says he regrets Ireland's planning for the World Cup becoming a "self-consuming monster" which he believes contributed to his side losing form as the tournament approached.

Ireland's underwhelming campaign ended again at the quarter-finals stage with Saturday's 46-14 defeat by New Zealand.

"If I had one regret it's the fact we talked about it a year ago," he said.

"We built up to it and we probably went away from our week to week focus or our immediate tournament focus.

"Maybe we built it [the World Cup] into something that became a bit of a self-consuming monster because we didn't play as well as we could.

"I have to take responsibility for that. If I had my time over I might do it a little bit differently. Unfortunately my time is done," added the Ireland coach after the squad arrived back in Dublin on Tuesday evening.

Following Ireland's defeat, Schmidt has come in for criticism over suggestions his side were effectively found out after having tremendous success in 2018 when they clinched the Grand Slam, won a series Test in Australia and earned a first ever home victory over the All Blacks.

The New Zealander, whose six-year Ireland tenure ended after Saturday's defeat, said he would "dispute massively" the claims that his side's system of play had become predictable and conservative.

"If you have a look back at that first half [against New Zealand] we go through some phases in the lead up to them kind of knocking the ball down and getting a five-metre lineout.

"We've created a really good overlap and I think we've done it using the ball really effectively.

"We created plenty of chances; even in the Six Nations we scored more tries than the winner [Wales].

"I'd just say it's not for lack of effort. We certainly wanted to play with a fair bit of width."

Johnny Sexton shows his dejection after Ireland's World Cup hammering by New Zealand
Johnny Sexton was among the big-name Ireland players to struggle badly against New Zealand

Ireland produce error-ridden display

Asked about his side's error-ridden display on Saturday, Schmidt said that he could offer "no real excuses....other than the human factor".

As to whether he had any regrets over team selection or his side's game plan, Schmidt replied: "Not really. There were some guys who didn't have great games and they would be probably even more disappointed than anyone else but that can happen on the big stage.

"A number of those guys who didn't have great games have had a lot of good games for us and against the All Blacks.

"They [the All Blacks] were very good on the day but we actually created some really good chances in that first half.

"On the back of opening them up or having opportunities they basically scored a couple of tries on our errors.

"I had an expectation that they were going to be very good. I just didn't think we would make uncharacteristic errors."