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‘I’ve had some experiences where teams haven’t quite nailed those big moments’ – Joe Schmidt’s veiled ‘consistency’ dig

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt speaks to the media today at Accor Stadium in Sydney, Australia. Photo: Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt believes building consistency and the ability to win close games will be two of his biggest challenges as he looks to build a team that can take on the British and Irish Lions next year.

The New Zealander embarked on a rebuilding project this year when he replaced Eddie Jones as coach of a Wallabies team that won just two of nine tests last season and crashed out of the World Cup in the group stages for the first time.

His first games in charge will consist of two Tests against Wales and one against Georgia in July, but any honeymoon period will be short as Australia renew their 22-year quest to reclaim the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks later this year .

Schmidt said he was encouraged by the performance of the Australian sides in Super Rugby Pacific this season, but pointed out they showed the same inconsistency that has plagued the Wallabies in recent years.

“Being competitive one week doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to be competitive the next week,” he told reporters in Sydney today.

“I think driving that consistency in performance is extremely important… you don’t have to be too far away to suddenly not be on the right side of the ledger at the end of the game.”

The former Ireland coach also noted that Australia had developed an unwanted habit of losing tight games in recent seasons.

“Just being able to capture those big moments at the end of those games has been a bit of a challenge for the Wallabies in recent years,” the former Leinster boss added.

“I’ve had a number of experiences where teams haven’t quite seized those big moments and tried to build your mindset so you can stay process-driven through those periods with consistency.”

Good selection was the first step towards creating consistent performances, Schmidt said, but he admitted he would probably not know his best team until the end of the last of the 13 Tests Australia will play this year.

Schmidt said priority would be given to players from Australia in his selections as his experience coaching in Ireland and with the All Blacks had taught him that the best combinations were often forged in provincial teams.

“I think if everyone is available here, you don’t have to go far anywhere else,” he said.

“We want to be as competitive as possible when the Lions arrive, that’s my huge goal, that’s the top event.”