Graham Henry: Joe Schmidt can lead All Blacks but he must be patient
Graham Henry believes Joe Schmidt has what it takes to coach New Zealand but says the Ireland supremo must be patient before assuming the top job in his home country.
Schmidt is due to inform the IRFU of his future intentions around now, as he makes his decision on whether to take up the union's offer of a two-year contract extension that would take him to the 2019 World Cup or return home to begin working towards the All Blacks job.
The former Leinster coach has been linked with jobs with the Chiefs and the Highlanders. His current deal expires at the end of the coming season.
Current All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is committed to leading the world champions in Japan and his replacement will have to come from within the coaching structures in New Zealand.
"I rate him exceptionally highly," Henry said of Schmidt. "I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I know the players enjoy playing for him.
"So, he has the base to do it. He has got to make those personal decisions about what he is going to do going forward.
"There is a law in New Zealand that to be an All Black coach you have to be coaching in New Zealand to go the next step.
"Like, Steve (Hansen) is going to coach until the next World Cup. In recent times they have appointed coaches from within to get that continuity so Joe might need to be a wee bit patient but he is quality. And I think the older you are the better you will be. So there is no rush."
Schmidt will have two attempts to lead Ireland to a first win over the All Blacks in November and Henry, who is working as a consultant with Leinster, believes they have a shot at history.
"I would say it'll be a good contest if they take their opportunities - I remember 2013 they didn't take their opportunities - but it could happen," he said.