Schmidt to get first refusal on Ireland job
THE Ireland head coaching position is Joe Schmidt's – if he wants it.
Sources suggest that an announcement regarding Declan Kidney's successor can be expected before the end of the month.
Schmidt is clearly the favourite for the position and will be interviewed by the IRFU as a matter of urgency. Other candidates, such as Les Kiss, will also be interviewed for the position. If Schmidt is agreeable, however, he will be appointed.
The IRFU are understood to be currently setting up a list of interviewees, with the Leinster coach and current interim Ireland head coach at the top of it.
Kiss, who will lead Ireland on their summer tour to America and Canada, is keen on the job but even if he is beaten to the position by Schmidt, it is likely he will be kept on as defensive coach.
Kiss and his family are well settled in Ireland and are keen to stay on. His wife Julie is at home in Dublin, their son Lachlan (16) is in transition year in St Andrew's, while daughter Sophie, a past pupil of the Dublin college, is currently studying psychology in Bristol.
Under Schmidt's stewardship the head coach would assume the offensive duties, with Kiss reverting to his original role as defensive coach. It is generally accepted that Kiss is a very good offensive coach but is a world-class defensive one.
However, it is expected that, if he accepts the position, Schmidt will be in the market for a new forwards coach as Gert Smal is not expected to be part of any new regime.
It is probable that Australian Ewen McKenzie and former South Africa coach Jake White will be interviewed by the IRFU before an announcement in the last week of April.
Schmidt is the popular choice and is the favourite to be appointed... if he wants the job, that is.
Ian Madigan gets the nod to face Munster at Thomond Park.