Schmidt could walk into All Blacks job - Smith
Two-time World Cup-winning All Black Conrad Smith believes Joe Schmidt could walk into the New Zealand job without first working with a Super Rugby side.
The Ireland coach is contracted to the IRFU until 2019 and is considered a leading contender to take over from Steve Hansen who is expected to leave after the tournament in Japan year.
Hansen is thought to favour his assistant Ian Foster, but the NZRU have not committed to an internal succession plan as they assess a highly competitive field.
It has been suggested that Schmidt would have to serve as a Super Rugby coach before assuming the top job, but legendary centre Smith - who yesterday confirmed he'll retire at the end of the season - does not believe that is set in stone.
"The fact Steve and Graham (Henry) did similar things, people realise it's a global game," Smith said. "It really helps if you've been over and experienced the way rugby is played and operates up here, it can only help your CV and your intel about the game, so I don't think that'd be much of an issue.
"Kiwis, we love to claim people from New Zealand, especially when they're successful.
"So we're well aware of him being a New Zealander, and it's helped by the fact our previous coaches have worked overseas - Graham Henry, Steve Hansen, he's well within the talks... he's doing a great with Ireland, he's someone who could potentially come back and coach the All Blacks, there's a few around.
"It's not an outrageous thought, the last two or three years he was already talked about as someone we'd love to have back."