Blues bid to tie Gibbes down with two-year deal on table

Des Berry

Leinster have offered forwards coach Jono Gibbes a two-year extension to his contract.

Gibbes moved straight from captaining Waikato into the demanding role of Leinster forwards coach on an initial two-year contract in 2008.

If he signs, it will be his second extension at a time of unprecedented success at the club where the possibility of a Heineken Cup-Pro12 League double is still intact.

Gibbes played for the All Blacks eight times, making his international debut against England at Dunedin's 'House of Pain' in 2004.

He captained his former club Waikato Chiefs for six seasons and also had the honour of leading the New Zealand Maori to victory over the British & Irish Lions in 2005.

In his playing career, he worked under the guidance of John Mitchell, Warren Gatland and Steve Hansen.

In his coaching career, he has spent time working under another former forward in Michael Cheika, and now for Joe Schmidt.

This move comes hot on the heels of Skills and Kicking coach Richie Murphy's two-year contract extension and the resigning of 18 players last week.

It is part of the process to keep Leinster's vaunted coaching ticket together. If Gibbes can agree terms, head coach Schmidt will be next in line. His current contract runs to the summer of next year.

No matter how the business end of matters finishes in the next three weeks, beginning at home to Glasgow Warriors in the PRO12 League semi-final on Saturday, Leinster must be aware that they have under contract one of the most wanted coaches in world rugby.

It would be remiss of the Irish Rugby Football Union not to look in Schmidt's direction as Ireland material as the current holder of the Irish office, Declan Kidney, will complete his national contract, also at the end of next season.

This would provide for a smooth transition from Kidney to Schmidt. It remains doubtful, however, whether Schmidt wants the post and whether he could work the technical improvements into the Irish squad with the limited time he would get to spend with them.

Leinster have made incremental improvements based on the day-to-day contact with their coaches, not truncated, short periods of time in which technique and skills cannot be altered greatly.