Lam wants Schmidt to stay on as Ireland boss

Pat Lam. Photo: Sportsfile

Nick Purewal

Joe Schmidt does not need to hurry the decision over his long-term Ireland future, according to Connacht coach Pat Lam.

Schmidt is due to inform the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) whether he will take up a contract extension to lead Ireland into World Cup 2019.

The 50-year-old head coach's current contract expires next summer, and he could yet return to his native New Zealand to take up a Super Rugby job.

After Connacht's PRO12 success last season, Lam has been touted as a potential successor with Ireland, but he wants Schmidt to stay put.

"It's a big decision, there shouldn't be any rush there," said Lam of Schmidt's call on whether to remain at Ireland's helm. "It's totally up to Joe. It's nothing to do with me.

"My focus is completely on Connacht, the expectations are so high. Everyone in Ireland including myself would like Joe to stay and continue the work he's doing.

"The secret of Irish rugby's success is that the provinces and the IRFU, we're all aligned.

"So being able to work closely with Joe and to make sure we can provide him a platform of players to play for Ireland is crucial. So I see our role in that is just as crucial as the other three provinces."

Insisting the continued speculation about Schmidt will not hinder Connacht, Lam said: "If you think about that back end of the season, everyone said 'well they will fall over soon, can they make the top four? can they make the final? there's no chance they can win it'.

"That was all an education for our players around focusing on the job."