Ireland coach Joe Schmidt admitted relief was his overwhelming emotion after seeing his team thrash Samoa in his first game in charge.
New Ireland coach Joe Schmidt admitted relief was his overwhelming emotion after seeing his team thrash Samoa in his first game in charge.
Ireland endured a scrappy, error-laden first half to lead 14-6 at the break, before showing glimpses of what might be to come under Schmidt's tutelage with four second-half tries to win 40-9.
But seeing off an injury-hit Samoan side is different to getting one over Australia or New Zealand, visitors to Dublin in the next fortnight, and Schmidt insists he's under no illusions of the job that lies ahead.
“I was pretty nervous to be honest,” said the former Leinster boss.
“I said to the players before the game that I was happy with the way they worked, happy with the attention they'd given me, but it counts for nothing because we'll be judged on the next 40 minutes and the 40 that follow those.
“There were a couple of glimpses there that you'd be happy with as a coach, but overall it's a sense of relief.
“I didn't want to have to come in here and face up to a first time loss. But I don't want to do it for a second up loss or third, so we'll keep working away.”
Schmidt was pleased with Ireland's set pieces, with the first try of the night coming through Peter O'Mahony off the base of a solid line-out platform, but was less enamoured by the kicking throughout the team.
Coughing up possession to Samoa is one thing, he argued, handing it to the strike runners that populate the Australian team is quite another.
“Going forward to next week or the week after we can't be that untidy with the ball,” he said.
“If someone finds Israel Folau or Adam Ashley Cooper with those kicks, we're really going to have our work cut out.
“Our kicking game has to be more accurate, and of we can tidy that up, we'll be happier.
“Nothing's easily rectified, it'll take little bit of time, because people are looking to find each other, the system and shape is different, we're trying to get continuity with the timing of the runs, and quality of the pass.
“We were forcing passes that didn't need to be forced. There was maybe a little bit of a 'trying too hard' attitude out there.
“The players wanted to produce stuff there and frustrated themselves and the fans. But I hope the people got a bit more interested in the last 20 minutes.”
Samoa lost three players to injury during the 80 minutes, but Ireland were ruthless in the final quarter with Dave Kearney (2) and Fergus McFadden adding to Sean O'Brien's second-half try to boost the winning scoreline.
Samoa skipper Kahn Fotuali'i delivered a harsh review of his side's performance, claiming they'd let the country down.
“It's definitely a disappointment, not a performance I'm proud of,” he said.
“I'm disappointed and it's not how we'd like to portray our team, but sometimes we have to take a step back to move forward.”