Schmidt commits for 2019
Joe Schmidt has finally announced his intention to remain with Ireland until the 2019 World Cup.
As revealed in the Irish Independent last month, the head coach has agreed to a contract extension that will see him continue in the job he began in 2013. The 51-year-old Irish citizen had been linked with several jobs in his native New Zealand and had been weighing up a return to the southern hemisphere for family reasons.
He has been living and working in Europe since 2007 and felt the pull of home, but has opted to give two more seasons to the job.
Schmidt has been hugely successful since taking over after Declan Kidney's contract was not renewed in 2013.
He has a 67pc win record and won back-to-back Six Nations in 2014 and 2015 before leading Ireland to their first away win over South Africa this summer.
However, his mission to take his adopted country beyond the quarter-final stage at last year's World Cup came a cropper against Argentina after he lost five key players including Paul O'Connell and Johnny Sexton to injury and suspension.
He used last season to begin blooding new players after his captain retired and has decided to continue with that process.
"I'd like to thank the IRFU for their patience and confidence as the decision to continue took somewhat longer than I'd anticipated," he said.
"It is difficult at times being so far away from extended family but we appreciate how lucky we are to have the support we have in Ireland.
"The strength of the rugby community has been incredibly visible over the past week and the enthusiasm of management and players to improve and compete is complemented by a really positive camaraderie.
"The wider community has made us welcome and as a family we have benefited immensely from their support.
"Looking forward there are positive signs with the U-20s finalists at the World Cup this year, the provinces topping three of the five Champions Cup pools and Ulster and Leinster sharing the lead of the Pro12.."
Schmidt is expected to name his squad for the November internationals tomorrow or Thursday.