'He's got to make his decision' - IRFU upbeat on keeping Joe Schmidt beyond 2019
The IRFU hope to hold on to Joe Schmidt beyond next year's World Cup and performance director David Nucifora believes there is a "decent chance" that he will remain in situ.
Assistant coaches Andy Farrell, Simon Easterby and Richie Murphy have committed until 2020 and will remain in position for that season regardless of Schmidt's decision on whether to stay beyond the tournament in Japan.
By that time the head coach will have been away from his native New Zealand for more than 12 consecutive years and he has spoken in recent months about his desire to return home.
However, while the New Zealand rugby union made a major play for his services when he last considered his future in 2016, Schmidt opted to remain for a second World Cup and Nucifora does not believe that coaching the All Blacks is necessarily a major goal of the former Leinster coach.
"He's got to want to stay. That's the main thing," Nucifora said in Sydney yesterday. "He's his own man. He's got to make his decision. Obviously, we'll do whatever we can to keep him. We had to do that the last time.
"I don't think it's money that really drives Joe. That's not him. Once he feels that he's done everything that he can do, he then may look for another challenge.
"He's done a fantastic job and he's cultivated a good set of coaches underneath him as well and I think we're just going to have to be patient like the way we were the last time. The New Zealanders went hard after him the last time and we managed to secure him for this period.
"I'm sure there'll be lots of other people that will be going after him. But at the end of the day it will be his decision and we'll do everything we can to try and keep him here if he wants to stay on.
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"What really drives him? The opportunity to be successful is what drives most coaches. They want to win. Like players, they want to win. So, I suggest that if he feels that he's done everything that he can do and achieved everything he can do, then he may look to go.
"But as I said, he's his own man, and he could very well surprise us all at the last minute and say that he wants to stay on for another term.
"All the talk at the moment is about him moving on, purely because he has been here so long, but if I was a betting man, I wouldn't know where to put my money at the moment. I think there's a decent chance that he will stay. So, we'll see."