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Schmidt right on Auckland radar

LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt could be on the Auckland Blues 'Most Wanted' list to replace doomed head coach Pat Lam for the 2013 Super-15 season.

At present, The Blues have that sinking feeling from a dreadful run in the Super-15 competition, winning a miserable one from ten to languish last in the New Zealand Conference of the newly formatted competition.

The Blues franchise heaped even more pressure on embattled coach Pat Lam by revealing that they are going to put his job up to tender.

Schmidt spent three seasons with The Blues (2004-07) before he began his European odyssey at Clermont-Auvergne (2007-2010), where the French Top-14 title was secured in his last season.

He is contracted to Leinster until the summer of 2013 with the province eager to extend his time at the club and Ireland is the obvious next stepping stone in this part of the world.

However, the IRFU would do well to take nothing for granted because Schmidt has moved on after three years in each of his last two jobs.

Leinster scrum coach Greg Feek and forwards coach Jono Gibbes are also being touted for the post in the New Zealand media.

All-Black legend Keven Mealamu came out to "apologise" on behalf of his players for the fact that Lam will effectively lose his job at the end of the year.

"From a players' point of view we're pretty disappointed we let coach down and we failed him, not through effort, but through execution on the field," Mealamu said.

"We all turn up prepared and ready to face each week but it's been one of those things this year. We've just struggled and what makes it tougher is that we've left coach in his situation."

Other names mentioned as potential replacements include John Kirwan, Vern Cotter, Mark Anscombe and Wayne Smith.

Meanwhile, Glasgow Warriors scrum-half Chris Cusiter knows his side face a mammoth task in trying to overturn reigning Heineken Cup champions Leinster this weekend but believes the Blues are beatable.

The former British and Irish Lion is confident of a daring display from the Scottish side at the RDS on Saturday.

"Nobody really expects us to win but within our group there is confidence," the scrum-half said.

"We've got a great team spirit and that's what can get us over the line."

Sean Lineen's side have form against the hosts this season, having won at the RDS in September, but Leinster more than had the upper hand in their two Heineken Cup pool games.

"Of course, it's do-able," he added. "It's 15 v 15. It's about sticking to our game plan."


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