Ireland captain Best backs Schmidt to lead the Lions to South Africa in 2021

Ireland coach Joe Schmidt, with captain Rory Best in South Africa in 2016. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile

Des Berry

The genius of Joe Schmidt is not always about what he communicates or even how he does it. Sometimes he has led Ireland forward by simply walking away.

"The first day he came into Ireland, he said 'we're going to run these three plays', and then walked out of the room," said Ireland captain Rory Best.

"Most of the people in the room did not have an idea of what he was talking about. But he knew the Leinster players did," said Best.

"You got together, you asked someone from Leinster to tell you what your role was. In one session, we learned three plays without him telling us anything."

No wonder Best has backed Schmidt to be the next Lions head coach. The Ireland supremo followed up the decision of "retiring" from rugby with a "never say never" clause last week about returning to the game.

Schmidt turned down the advances from New Zealand Chief Executive Steve Tew in 2107 in order to complete unfinished business with Ireland.

The door to the All Blacks appears to be closed, for the foreseeable future. The Lions could well provide the all-encompassing challenge to tempt Schmidt back.

"The Lions is one of the few things he hasn't done. He hasn't been given the opportunity to be successful there," said Best.

"I have no doubt that he would be successful given that opportunity."

The Banbridge man was unconcerned about players unknown to Schmidt needing time to adjust to his attention to detail

"There's no doubt with the way he performs, the way he goes about his business that he could take the Lions and be successful with them."

The commitment to the Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 would allow Schmidt the space to care for his family for almost a year.

The 2019 Rugby World Cup final will take place on November 2, allowing a 10-month break until the beginning of the 2020/2021 season when Schmidt would begin preparations.