Liam Williams ‘It’s been a privilege’ – Schmidt set to bid farewell in final home game

Liam Williams ‘It’s been a privilege’ – Schmidt set to bid farewell in final home game

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PLAYED 33, WON 27, drawn one, lost five.

Joe Schmidt will hope his Ireland team can add another victory to his record as head coach at the Aviva Stadium today against Wales, but the numbers already make for impressive reading.

Consider too that the All Blacks, the Wallabies, the Springboks, England, Wales, France, and Scotland are among those to have been vanquished at Lansdowne Road in his tenure, and Schmidt’s time at the Dublin venue has certainly been a success.

Liam Williams joe-schmidt-celebrates-winning-with-cj-stander-and-jonathan-sexton
Schmidt celebrates the 2017 victory over England in Dublin.

Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The 53-year-old will oversee Ireland at this stadium for the final time this afternoon [KO 2pm, Channel 4], with his time as boss coming to an end after the World Cup in Japan.

Schmidt will leave with some frustrations about the occasional shortcoming at the Aviva, but largely he will have good memories.

“It’s a bit of a blur, to be honest,” says Schmidt when asked about his favourite home games. “I think the great days have been the ones where the players have done something a little bit special, and you’ve seen players grow.

“A few years ago [in 2017], England were on the cusp of breaking the record for the most consecutive wins [having won 18 in a row] and they were on the cusp of going back-to-back Grand Slams.

“Kieran Marmion started at nine that day and did such a phenomenal job for us, and Luke McGrath coming off the bench, he put that kick into the corner that just took the pressure off.

“And Peter O’Mahony had come into the starting XV when Jamie Heaslip pulled out so late in the day; he grabs the lineout right towards the end, plucks it away from Maro Itoje. There’s moments like that that obviously linger.

“There were the sad days, like 2013 against the All Blacks, but they’re counter-balanced now because whoever has come here we’ve managed to beat at some stage through the last six years so it’s been a privilege.”

The November 2018 victory over the Kiwis, Ireland’s first-ever win against them on home soil, “was huge” for Schmidt.

Liam Williams joe-schmidt-and-steve-hansen-before-the-game
Schmidt got the better of Steve Hansen in 2018.

Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

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