Wednesday 23 October 2019

2021 Lions role might tempt Schmidt back, says O'Driscoll

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't have a little taste for being involved in a Lions tour in two years' time," O'Driscoll told Independent.ie. Photo: Brendan Moran/Sportsfile
Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Brian O'Driscoll can see Joe Schmidt ending his rugby retirement to coach the Lions in 2021, with the legendary centre saying the Ireland boss would be "very high on the list" of candidates.

Schmidt announced this week that he will leave his role as Ireland boss after the 2019 World Cup in Japan, surprisingly adding that he will step away from coaching completely due to family commitments.

However, despite Schmidt's public statement, there is still speculation that the decorated head coach could be enticed back with the right job.

The Lions tour to South Africa in 2021 would allow Schmidt recharge his batteries for a year before returning to the coaching world, although the next tour will have even less preparation time than the 2017 trip to New Zealand, where players infamously were still feeling the effects of jet-lag ahead of the first warm-up game.

However, O'Driscoll thinks that Schmidt could devote the 2020/'21 season to the project, which would allow his meticulous attention-to-detail to be used to plan a first series win in South Africa since 1997.

Taste

"I'd be surprised if he doesn't have a little taste for being involved in a Lions tour in two years' time," O'Driscoll told Independent.ie.

"Joe is a good fit with any environment. If you gave him a Barbarians team, he'd probably get them playing some great stuff in three days. That new, shortened tour is not conducive to helping the Lions, but if someone can do it and someone can put in the time necessary to pick apart a Springboks team, he'd be very, very high on the list.

"I think he enjoyed the international stuff where it hasn't been day-to-day, I thought he was going to miss that. Take that back another step, and all the preparation for a Lions tour, and then hit the ground running for five weeks, maybe that's something that will interest him."

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Brian O'Driscoll is a HSBC global rugby sevens ambassador, supporting the explosive growth of the sport. Follow the action at @HSBC_Sport on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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