Joe Schmidt praised Ireland’s “special” achievement after they fought to a tenacious 20-16 victory over the Wallabies to win their first Test series in Australia in 39 years.
Fly-half Johnny Sexton kicked a pressure penalty a minute from full-time to clinch a tense win in Sydney after Australia had battled back from eight points down in the second half.
Ireland came from a game down to win the series 2-1, their first three-Test victory in the southern hemisphere, to add to their Grand Slam Six Nations triumph earlier this year.
“It’s up there. They are a super team and to beat them in their backyard and sneak off with the Lansdowne Cup is a little bit special for us,” Schmidt said.
“Especially on the back of a pretty long season and I think it’s a credit to the players that they dug in just well enough.”
“We’ll be forensic going back over the video and have a good look, but a heck of a lot of it tonight was about character.
“The Wallabies came back and came back in waves. Credit to the guys, young Jordan Larmour and having to work really hard.
“Jordi Murphy, Tadhg Beirne, those guys having to come into what was a real furnace, and they came out the other side. Let’s hope that furnace develops the diamonds we need.”
3:33 Joe Schmidt praised his team and backroom staff as Ireland secured a 2-1 series victory over Australia
Ireland back-row CJ Stander scored their only try in the Sydney success, diving over the tryline at the back of a powerful Irish maul.
“We knew it was going to be a cup final for us coming down here. It’s the last game of the year as well, so everyone just came out and gave 100 per cent,” Stander said. “We knew it was the last one and Australia were going to attack us.
“We pride ourselves on defence and that’s the one thing that has got us through this year, especially the Six Nations.
“Our coaches put a lot of work into it and that gives us the confidence to go out on weekends and enjoy it and make sure we hit them. The last 20 minutes it was wave and wave and I’m really proud of the guys, they really stepped up today.”
1:29 CJ Stander is full of praise for Ireland's series win against Austalia in Sydney
After being presented with the Lansdowne Cup on the pitch, Ireland captain Peter O’Mahony – who had to be stretchered off injured – said: “It was incredibly tough against Australia as always.
“It was great from the lads. It’s been a long time since we won over here. To win back-to-back is incredibly difficult. Brilliant Australia, they were three incredible Tests. I’m very proud of the lads.”