Six Nations 2015: Wood praises Schmidt's 'obsessive nature'

Keith Wood believes Joe Schmidt's attention to detail has been key to Ireland's recent success
Joe Schmidt coached Leinster to Heineken Cup success in 2011 and 2012 before taking charge of Ireland
RBS Six Nations: Italy v Ireland
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome Date: Saturday, 7 February Kick-off: 14:30 GMT Coverage: Live on BBC TV, HD, Red Button, Radio 5 live, the BBC Sport website, mobile, the BBC Sport app and Connected TV.

Keith Wood says Ireland coach Joe Schmidt's "obsessive nature and attention to detail" is key to the continuation of his side's success into the 2015 Six Nations and the World Cup.

The Irish beat Australia and South Africa in the autumn in Dublin after winning last year's Six Nations.

"Joe is so obsessive with detail, the level of preparation is down to that," said Wood.

"He delves into the depths of the potential that lies in every player."

BBC analyst Wood added: "I thought he would miss working with players on a day-to-day basis when he left Leinster but he deals with them individually as if it is on a day-to-day basis and instils great confidence into the team."

The former Ireland hooker recalls the interview process, of which he was asked to be a part, which led to the appointment of Schmidt to succeed Declan Kidney in April 2013.

"I was part of the panel which interviewed Joe and I had a whole series of questions I wanted to use to grill all the prospective coaches, but his presentation covered every single question on my list. It was so thorough.

"He's an outstanding coach, very precise in everything he does, and he's got the players on his side. He's ruthless though and expects them to know exactly where they should be in every phase.

"In his view, if they don't do their homework prior to training, they'll lose their concentration, they won't do it right and they won't be preparing properly for the Six Nations and the World Cup."

Ireland's Six Nations fixtures
DateOpponentVenue
Saturday, 7 FebruaryItalyStadio Olimpico, Rome
Saturday, 14 FebruaryFranceAviva Stadium, Dublin
Sunday, 1 MarchEnglandAviva Stadium, Dublin
Saturday, 14 MarchWalesMillennium Stadium, Cardiff
Saturday, 21 MarchScotlandMurrayfield, Edinburgh

Ireland begin the defence of their title against Italy on Saturday and ex-Irish skipper Wood insists Schmidt will not allow his charges to think beyond that opener in Rome.

"Joe won't let them think beyond the first weekend and if they do, they're not treating the Italians with the proper respect," he added.

"He is articulate, very personable, unassuming, quiet and quite modest, and he likes to keep everyone guessing - the players, the media and past players.

"We think a team Joe has selected doesn't look right but he puts together a game-plan which seems to take away any doubts around the players and maybe enhances some of their capabilities.

"There's a level of trust from the players and supporters that he knows what he's doing.

"In times past that would frighten me as we never seem to do well when we have all our ducks in a row and yet there seems to be a quiet confidence in the team, not arrogance, that they are able to go out and play well."

Wood told BBC Radio 5 live that he expects a fiercely contested Six Nations tournament, with coaches and players inevitably having one eye on this autumn's World Cup in England and Wales.

"The Six Nations is always a great tournament in its own right but there's always that little bit added extra to it when there's a World Cup to come at the end of the year.

"It will be interesting to see if the guys are peaking at this stage or will they peak in eight months' time? We'll see who's going to come back from injury and what, if anything, the coaches are holding back."

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