Joe Schmidt has admitted he was nervous about the reaction he would receive on returning to Ireland after the World Cup under-performance in Japan. 

The departed head coach led Ireland to three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam, during his six years in charge but his otherwise successful reign was marred by the failure to improve upon Ireland's poor World Cup record. 

His stint on charge ended on a bum note with a hammering at the hands of New Zealand, in a game in which Ireland's defence and attack malfunctioned throughout. 

In an interview on the Late Late Show, Schmidt acknowledged that he was nervous about the reaction of the public on his return. 

"I was disappointed. I didn't really want to meet people and have them disappointed as well. 

"You know when you get off the flight you're going to walk straight into cameras that are at the airport. We'd been up at 3am to catch our flight and I didn't really catch our flight.

"You get in - and I'm not sure what I said in the interview now - but you're probably not at your peak.

"I did hide away for a while. And my wife said let's get out of town then. We went to Spain for a few days which was great."

Elsewhere in the interview, Schmidt said Ireland's preoccupation with the World Cup throughout 2019 saw the team lose momentum and confidence earlier in the season. 

While some of the post-World Cup commentary argued the IRFU's allegedly excessive focus on the Six Nations had once more inhibited Ireland from preparing and timing their run properly for the World Cup, Schmidt's take is roughly the opposite. 

Schmidt said the group's thoughts wandered to the World Cup far too early in the season and they lost their 'week to week' focus. 

This resulted in a poor Six Nations campaign, which had the knock-on effect of damaging the team's confidence, something they were ultimately unable to recover later in the year. 

"The only thing that we hadn't achieved, having beaten everyone, won the Slam, won Six Nations, was that World Cup and even getting to that semi-final. 

"We said everything else is secondary to us getting to that World Cup final or World Cup semi-final. 

"We didn't prioritise the Six Nations the way we normally would have. We were always a week to week team. Just making sure we focused on what was immediately in front of us. 

"I think we started to project our thoughts too far in advance and we didn't perform well in the Six Nations. Our confidence ebbed a little bit and we lost our rhythm. 

"We never quite got it back. I thought after the Scotland game that we were on an upswing and the plan was coming to fruition.

"But we were vulnerable the following week and we never really picked ourselves up."