Schmidt challenges Ireland to expect the unexpected after Murrayfield mishap

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Joe Schmidt has told his Ireland side they must learn to cope with the unexpected ahead of a crucial trip to Italy in the Six Nations.

Ireland were tipped by many as the team most likely to challenge England's dominance, but started with a disappointing 27-22 defeat in Scotland despite having fought back from 21-5 to briefly lead.

Head coach Schmidt later stated that Ireland's pre-match preparations were disrupted by the team bus turning up 15 minutes late to Murrayfield.

The New Zealander recognises that players at the top level are used to routine, but says his team must be able to adapt to all challenges.

"It was a one-off anomaly," Schmidt said.

"We are focused on performance but it is good to focus on those distractions because you will have them in other tournaments and at other times. So it is good experience.

"It was incredibly disappointing the way we started, it wasn't apathy, it was just anxiety with everything that happened. Players are routine based but they need to become adaptable.

"Scotland scored three tries in those first 25 minutes but none after that and that reflected what we are capable of but we are chasing things then."

Despite the Scotland setback, Schmidt insists Ireland are not yet playing catch up in the tournament and says Ireland's inability to finish promising plays was more disappointing than their start to the match.

"We are not playing catch-up," he added. "We won't get carried away chasing things. If we keep improving, which I am confident we can, we can still have our destiny in our own hands.

"The biggest disappointment last weekend was not the start but the finish - and the finishing.

"We had nine line-breaks, opportunities from overlaps we created, balls into touch on the full, unforgivable stuff."