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'It's a scary thought what he can do': What Schmidt brings to All Blacks

By Sam Smith
(Photo by Phil Walter/Getty Images)

Former Leinster and Blues utility Isa Nacewa has described exactly what new All Blacks assistant coach Joe Schmidt will bring to the role.


Nacewa played under Schmidt in Ireland at Leinster and won two of his four Heineken Cups under the Kiwi coach in 2011 and 2012, as well as a Pro Rugby title in 2013.

Schmidt went on to coach the national side in 2013 and transformed Ireland into one of the best sides in international rugby, winning three Six Nations titles and masterminding Ireland’s first two wins over the All Blacks.

Speaking on Sky Sport NZ’s The Breakdown, Nacewa said that the coach is so switched into the game that there often isn’t an angle that Schmidt has already thought about.

“Joe brings a different level of intensity,” Nacewa told The Breakdown panel.

“There are a lot of great coaches in the world and then he has been labeled Mr. Rugby. That’s him for a reason.

“As a player, you bring an idea to the table and low and behold he’s already thought about it from six different angles, he’s six steps ahead of you.

“But he also brings an unprecedented level for coaches. It makes them take it up a notch as well.


“He knows how to get the best out of players, but he just doesn’t let off.

“He’s very easy to prank because he’s so focused on rugby the majority of the time. It’s a level of intensity that is ongoing, whether it is analysis, training, the game, what you were eating.

“I think that works for certain groups, and I think for this group it is a master stroke with Fozzy.”

Going from head coach of Ireland to an assistant with New Zealand won’t bother Schmidt according to Nacewa, as it will allow the 56-year-old to do what he does best.

The ex-Fijian international said it is ‘a scary thought’ what Schmidt could get out of these players.


“Fozzy brought him into this role so he won’t have any qualms about taking the assistant coach role because his skill is being on the field,” Nacewa said.

“He knows that he can probably stay out of the press, not have to deal with the top decisions and it will let him do his job 10 times better.

“It is quite a scary thought what he can do, because he has always been at teams whether it was Clermont, Leinster, Ireland, that he has had to sort of build up the group of players, and absolutely perform.

“They still talk about him. They still talk about him in Clermont, they still talk about him weekly at Leinster and Ireland, in camp and what we did.

“Now he’s coming to the elite of the elite players. This is the All Blacks he gets to get his hands on and get involved with.

“That I think is a scary thought.”

Former All Black wing Jeff Wilson shared insights from the Blues where Schmidt coached this year and the positive impact he had on the playing group.

“You talk to anyone inside the Blues, they talk of his ability on the field, his love for being out there coaching,” Wilson said.

“When he was forced into action early at the Blues, he was loving it.

“All the feedback I heard is they were loving his input. His passion, his level of detail, he’s got a clear understanding of the game that is rare.

“The one word you mentioned is motivation. I’m sorry, but if you are an All Black, you don’t need motivating.

“In the All Black jersey, that should be motivating enough. It’s not about being selected, it’s about being the best you can be in that jersey and being a great All Black.

“He [Schmidt] shouldn’t need to go in and motivate anybody.”


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