Jared Payne: Irish fans are more passionate than Kiwi supporters
Irish supporters are 'more passionate' than the Kiwis
Ireland's Jared Payne is adamant Joe Schmidt's "knowledge of the game is unrivalled" in his extensive experience.
This 29-year-old has bounced around the New Zealand system, playing for three of their five Super-15 clubs in the past.
There was one season at Waikato Chiefs, two at Canterbury Crusaders and one at Auckland Blues before he decamped for Ulster in 2011.
While there has been a clamour to label Schmidt as 'the best coach in the world' in the northern hemisphere, there has been a much more muted response from the land of Schmidt's birth.
Clearly, Payne is in a far better position to rank and rate Schmidt than almost anyone else, bar Isa Nacewa, as a Kiwi, who has just won a Six Nations under Schmidt's stewardship.
"The way he analyses the game, the opposition, the way you are playing individually and as a team is unrivalled around the world,
"The amount of hours he puts in. I've never seen anything like it," he stated.
"That sets him apart from any other coaches, his work ethic and just the type of person he is in general.
"He's a very personable, easy-to-chat-to guy. He gets his message across very well. His knowledge of the game and attention to detail is unrivalled."
As to the claim that New Zealanders only really take serious notice of those who execute in the southern hemisphere, Payne was sceptical.
All Blacks coach Steve Hansen's contract is set to expire on conclusion of the British & Irish Lions tour to New Zealand in 2017.
It will certainly be interesting to see whether the IRFU can convince Schmidt to extend his contract here. And for how long.
Of course, Schmidt would relish the challenge of taking The Lions back home in what is surely a two-horse race to lead them south between Warren Gatland and the Ireland coach.
"Hopefully, they're not too interested. You'd prefer to keep him up here wouldn't you?" teased Payne.
"He's definitely been noticed back home. You see articles and what not. The All Blacks and the NZ rugby public in general have seen what Ireland have done under Joe.
"He's held in high regard. He's made an imprint on the public back home."
Payne also opened up on the difference in coming from a country where winning is the only option to one where it is appreciated.
"I was never in the All Black environment, so I never felt that pressure," he said.
"I can only really talk about the support you get, seeing the way the All Blacks are followed back home and the way the Irish people get in behind the Ireland team.
"I will probably get shot somewhere for saying this but the way the Irish get behind their team, they're a lot more passionate.
"It's unbelievable to see match days where you're over in Rome, or somewhere, and there are Irish people filling the streets, full of beans and getting behind their team.
"It's unparalleled, the support you get from the public here."