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Joe stays for one more year

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt has put pen to paper on a one-year contract extension that will keep him at the province to the end of the 2013-2014 season.

"I am delighted to sign an extension to my contract here with Leinster," said Schmidt this morning.

"I'm lucky to be part of such a positive coaching team and to have the top quality support staff we have. The professionalism of the players is a real asset.

"They constantly challenge themselves and each other to improve, which makes them a great group to coach.

"The wider Leinster community have really made my family and I feel welcome here and we have been fortunate to have enjoyed some memorable success on the field.

"Let's hope that with continued hard work - and a bit of luck - that there will be more bright days ahead," said the 46-year-old.

This welcome news could not come at a better time, given how Leinster have struggled in recent weeks to maintain their high standards under the New Zealander, limping to sixth in the PRO12 League after five rounds.

It will also come as an immediate boost to his players as Leinster contemplates a derby against Munster in front of 45,000 spectators at The Aviva Stadium tomorrow evening.

Leinster Chief Executive Michael Dawson added: "I am delighted that Joe will remain with Leinster for the next two seasons.


"Since arriving from France he has overseen and led a period of great growth and success for Leinster, both on and off the field.

"Joe is an outstanding leader and ambassador for the province and he continues to cultivate strong values within our organisation. I know that this news will be welcomed by our loyal following across the province and beyond."

Schmidt first arrived at Leinster in the summer of 2010, taking over from Australian Michael Cheika, the man who took the province to their first European crown in 2009.

He dealt with a dodgy start to his tenure -- the club lost three of his first four matches in the then Magner's League -- to renew Leinster's tradition for fast, fluid rugby underpinned by the ultimate reward - trophies.

There are the back-to-back Heineken Cups in 2011 and 2012 and the considerable consistency of guiding Leinster to the last two PRO12 League finals.

Schmidt is one of the most respected coaches in Europe, recently earmarked as one of the favourites to join Warren Gatland's British & Irish Lions as the backs coach.

Indeed, it was in this role, as assistant to Vern Cottter, that Schmidt made his reputation in Europe, playing a central role in taking Clermont-Auvergne to the French Championship for the first time in 2010, in the process breaking a hoodoo of ten final defeats.

In New Zealand, Schmidt grew his profile as an innovative backs coach at the Auckland Blues (2004-2007) and, before then, by taking the Bay of Plenty to the Ranfurly Shield for the first time in 2004.