Joe Schmidt is too canny to set targets publicly but he admits he dreams of bowing out as Ireland head coach by taking them to their first ever Rugby World Cup semi-final.
The 53-year-old New Zealander — who will take his team to the sport’s quadrennial showpiece in Japan as the world number one ranked team — ends a remarkable six-year tenure when the tournament ends.
During that time he has guided the Irish to victories over all the southern Hemisphere nations — the pinnacle two historic wins over world champions New Zealand — and three Six Nations titles including only the third Grand Slam in their history last year.
Hence his desire to be the first coach to succeed in taking Ireland beyond the World Cup quarter-finals — arguably his greatest disappointment is the manner in which Argentina blitzed the Irish in the 2015 last eight clash.
“Yes we would love to make that semi-final and I don’t set goals,” he said following Saturday’s 19-10 victory over Wales to confirm their place at the top of the rankings.
“So it is not even a goal, it is a dream I have that I would love to see come to fruition.
Schmidt, who has turned the Irish around in their last three warm-up Tests with back to back wins over the Welsh after a humiliating 57-15 thrashing by England, says it is important for the country to make the last four.
“We need a semi-final in this big competition coming up,” he said.
“If you try to chase everything, I don’t know if you’ve done too much farming but if you try to chase the whole herd all you end up is chasing.
“If you corral things and decide where your priorities are I think you give yourself a better chance.
“But you need that luck, you need a few things to go your way.”