Stuart Lancaster and Andy Farrell ready to take on top job - IRFU CEO Philip Browne
IRFU chief executive Philip Browne insists both Andy Farrell and Stuart Lancaster would be "more than capable" of stepping into Joe Schmidt's shoes should the Kiwi decide to leave after next year's World Cup.
Farrell, who was Lancaster's defence coach with England through to the end of the 2015 World Cup, has a similar role with Ireland. Lancaster has been winning plaudits as senior coach at Leinster.
Both have been touted as possible options for Ireland should Schmidt decide to move on. The New Zealander has told the IRFU he will inform them of his decision at the end of the November international window.
Browne stressed that the IRFU's first choice was for Schmidt to stay, with Saturday's visitors New Zealand the only team above Ireland in the world rankings. He conceded, however, that might not be possible.
"It's not just about Joe and his career," he said. "It's about family."
If Schmidt does decide to go, Farrell and Lancaster could both come under consideration.
"They're both hugely impressive individuals," Browne said. "You only have to hear what the Leinster players say about Stuart. And what the Ireland players - and the Lions players - say about Andy. So, whoever has either of them in their set-up is very fortunate. We're very fortunate to have Andy."
Asked whether Farrell's lack of experience as a No 1 might count against him, Browne suggested it would not.
"Andy has been in international set-ups, and in the Lions set-up," he said. "So, they're both more than capable of stepping up."
England head coach Eddie Jones is due to stay in his role until 2021, with the RFU keen to bring in someone to work under the Australian after the World Cup. That could be a sticking point for Farrell, who recently signed a contract extension with Ireland until the summer of 2020.
Meanwhile, Conor Murray and Robbie Henshaw have been ruled out of Ireland's clash with the All Blacks. (© Daily Telegraph, London)