JOE SCHMIDT is expected to be ratified as Ireland's head coach and successor to Declan Kidney by the end of next week.
The Leinster boss is believed to have been the final candidate interviewed as the IRFU concluded the recruitment drive last night and an announcement is expected once contract details are ironed out. During an appearance on last night's 'Late Late Show', Schmidt emphasised how the national position would be less demanding on his time – which appeals as he has a young family.
Schmidt (right) may still request that an official announcement be put back until after Leinster's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final clash with Biarritz next Saturday, however, it is likely that the IRFU will want to end speculation before the end of the week.
The odds of Schmidt being appointed shortened further on Thursday when the former World Cup-winning coach, Jake White, ruled himself out of contention.
He was invited to interview, but is understood to have declined.
White is understood to have spoken to a number of people in relation to the Irish position and the depth of talent that is available to a new coach. He is keen on a return to international rugby, but has his sights on taking over Australia. White is expected to go head-to-head with Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie for the position after the Lions tour in June, when incumbent Robbie Deans is expected to be relieved of his post.
McKenzie was interviewed for the Irish job. The only other candidate understood to have been interviewed is current interim head coach Les Kiss.
He remains the second favourite for the position.
Kiss has served as Ireland defensive and offensive coach since being coopted by Declan Kidney ahead of the 2009 Grand Slam-winning season. It has been suggested that Kiss could be retained as defensive coach by Schmidt.