Schmidt shrugs off England talk

Des Berry

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed his commitment to Leinster amid speculation of interest from the Rugby Football Union to make him the next England coach.

"I have been flattered by some misguided bookmakers, who have thrown me into the market. I haven't had any contact with them. I really enjoy what we are doing here. I am very Leinster focused," he said.

While Schmidt was quick to distance himself from the rumour mill that circulates around every top-class coach for what must rank as the most pressurised rugby job in Europe, he does have an opinion on who the next England coach should be.

"There is a lot of talk around international appointments. It is very often wide of the mark. I, personally, think that Jim Mallinder has done a great job. He would be an obvious choice for me," said Schmidt.

"I know Northampton had a bad time on Friday night. But, he has had good success with English Saxons. He has done his coaching apprenticeship and he was a good player in his time."

The easy-going New Zealander has made a habit of not looking too far around the next corner. He has a laissez-faire attitude to life based on simple principles.

"I wasn't even interested in being a head coach. It is pretty hard to look that far ahead. I've never really set a goal in my life. I just set values that you live by and work hard from there.

"I would say that sometimes, if you are a coach who sets goals, there is a danger you're putting those goals, first and foremost, in front of the team."

Schmidt is approaching the midway point of his three-year contract at Leinster. It is reasonable to suggest the province would like to tie him to a longer deal. But this is a man who doesn't look that far ahead.