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The former Leinster supremo enjoyed his first games in charge of the men in green during last year's autumn internationals.
That series culminated in a heartbreaking 24-22 defeat to the All Blacks but Schmidt is in bullish mood ahead of the tournament.
"If we could defend the Aviva that would be great," he said.
"If we manage an away victory against either England or France, as well, then that would put us in the mix for a shot at being in the top two.
"That would be a fantastic achievement given where we've come from, but that's not to say that's our clear expectation. We know we've got a lot of hard work ahead of us."
First up for Schmidt and co is the visit of Scotland, with only a six-day turnaround before reigning champions Wales come to town in round two.
And while Schmidt would prefer a longer time period between the games, the Kiwi is still hoping for a strong showing.
"The six-day turnaround from Scotland to Wales is a really big ask," he added.
"There's nothing we can do about that and you just have to get on with it, just like you can't control the calls of a referee.
"But it's unfortunate that we're not going to get a great run-in to a game against a great team like Wales, especially after facing a combative outfit like Scotland. We'll only really have one real training session that week, so we'll have to make it count."