Wednesday 20 February 2019

Emotional Joe Schmidt says he has not yet made up his mind on future

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

An emotional Joe Schmidt has insisted he has not yet made up his mind on whether he will remain as Ireland coach or return to New Zealand after next year's World Cup.

The coach says he will gather his family together on Sunday morning to make a collective, final decision.

The Ireland head coach's contract is up at the end of the tournament in Japan but he has an open offer from the IRFU to continue if he wishes.

After discussing the call with his wife Kellie and his children, Schmidt will then inform IRFU performance director David Nucifora of his decision on Sunday night or Monday morning.

Although he yesterday said he has not come down on either side of the argument, there are growing fears that the country's most successful coach will opt to depart.

An announcement on his future could be made as early as Monday as the IRFU look to put the issue to bed.

The weight of a difficult decision was evident in Schmidt's voice as he spoke positively about the support he has received from his employers and from the Irish public, in particular with relation to his son Luke who suffers from epilepsy, after naming his team for tomorrow's match against the United States.

"I report to David Nucifora and I would have a good working relationship with David.

"I have felt he and Philip Browne (CEO) and the committee have given us huge support," Schmidt said after making 14 changes to the team that beat New Zealand.

"I think they are great people to work for. They have given us a real licence to trial things, to take risks.

"So it will be a chat with David Nucifora on Monday or might even be Sunday evening and obviously the CEO Philip Browne. My wife, Kellie, and the kids... we are going to get a bit of time for a brunch on Sunday and kind of nut a few things out.

"Look, it is tough for me. To be honest I am not sure, you know?

"I cannot believe the support we have had here as a family. Obviously with Luke, he has phenomenal support… I will ask him a question and see how we go. I've beaten myself up about this decision - I'll be as pleased as anyone when it's made.

"It's a decision that has been a long time coming. The family I have probably committed most to is this family I live with in Carton House as much as the family I have at home."

If Schmidt does choose to leave the IRFU are expected to replace from within, with defence coach Andy Farrell the leading candidate along with his former England colleague Stuart Lancaster.

Rhys Ruddock will lead the team tomorrow, with Garry Ringrose the sole survivor from last week's famous win. Munster's Sammy Arnold is set to make his debut off the bench.

Irish Independent

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