Thursday 17 August 2017

Schmidt open to idea of Ireland coaching role

Hugh Farrelly

JOE SCHMIDT has not ruled out the possibility of becoming Ireland's backs coach but insists his priority is trying to build on the success of last season with Leinster.

The New Zealander steered the province to the Heineken Cup last May in his first season in charge, and has forged a reputation as one of the foremost attacking coaches in the game, having helped Clermont to the Top 14 title in that role.

With Alan Gaffney's contract as backs coach concluding after Ireland's World Cup exit, it has led to speculation that a way could be found for Schmidt to combine his Leinster head coach duties with a role in the Ireland set-up.

"I love the job I am doing here," said Schmidt. "I'd never say never but I haven't been approached, and it's not something I have given thought to.

"If I was approached, I would have to think about it and then talk to my family and to Leinster as well. I am contracted to Leinster until 2013 and I would say that any job I have done in rugby, I have never not done (completed) my contract.

"With the (Auckland) Blues, we played a really good semi-final in Durban, with Bay of Plenty we won the Ranfurly Shield, with Clermont the Top 14. I would like to think that Leinster would be no different, that I could work through and keep the province strong."

No decision has been taken on who will replace Gaffney, although discussions are understood to be under way with Connacht and Irish Wolfhounds coach Eric Elwood, another focus of speculation from within Irish rugby circles.

Meanwhile, Leinster have announced that more than 35,000 tickets have been sold for their Pro 12 showdown with Munster at Lansdowne Road on November 4, a game that is likely to feature a clutch of Ireland's returning World Cup players.

Irish Independent

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