Tuesday 23 April 2019

Joe Schmidt to decide on Ireland future by end of the year


Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt. Photo: Sportsfile

Rúaidhrí O'Connor

Joe Schmidt will wait until after the November internationals to make a decision on his future beyond the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

The Ireland coach is out of contract after the tournament and has yet to make up his mind on whether he will continue in the job, go home to New Zealand or take up another opportunity elsewhere.

The IRFU are keen to keep their most successful coach beyond the tournament in Japan, but earlier this week performance director David Nucifora said he would not pressure the coach to make up his mind but remained hopeful he would stay.

Speaking after he made five changes to his team for the final game of the season against Australia, Schmidt said he would put his family first when making his decision.

"I am off the hook there. That is a long way away," he said. "Some of that stuff will probably (be decided) by the end of this year I'd say; there will be some clear direction there because for the entire following year I am still in situ, unless I get sacked. You just never take anything for granted!

"You can be flavour of the week, one week, and then things can turn around very quickly. I take nothing for granted but I have been lucky enough to do the job for as long as I have, and I have really enjoyed the people I have worked with.

"I would say I will try and get through the November series. That is a really nice group of games and then following that, one of the few times of the year our family manages to get together is Christmas and we will make a decision after that.

"It would want my family to be happy. I think that has got to be a priority for anyone in a job.

"My family obviously extends beyond my immediate family and there is some lingering doubt about being so far away, but I tend to be able to get back once a year and that is a pretty precious time."

Seán Cronin and Jack Conan were the surprise inclusions in Schmidt's starting XV, while Jack McGrath, Bundee Aki and Jacob Stockdale return to the team. Garry Ringrose (foot), Iain Henderson (knee), Dan Leavy (sternum) and Andrew Conway (hip) were all ruled out through injury as captain Peter O'Mahony starts at openside flanker for only the second time. Ross Byrne could make his debut off the bench.

Australia coach Michael Cheika has made two changes to his team, with Nick Phipps coming in for the injured Will Genia and Lokhan Tui replacing flanker Caleb Timu.

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