Payne warns of All Black interest in 'unrivalled' Schmidt
Jared Payne says Joe Schmidt is making waves in New Zealand and warned that the All Blacks already have their eye on the Ireland coach.
Kiwi-born centre Payne, who qualifies to play for his adopted country through residency, says interest in his fellow countrymen has sky-rocketed since this year's second successive Six Nations win.
The IRFU are under pressure to persuade the coach to remain in charge beyond the end of next season when his current contract expires.
Talks between the union and the coach are already under way and, while success in the northern hemisphere sometimes goes unnoticed in the home of the world champions, Payne says Schmidt is no longer flying under the radar.
"Hopefully they're not too interested, you'd prefer to keep him up here wouldn't you?" the Ulster star said.
"He's definitely been noticed back home. You see articles and what-not, the All Blacks and the New Zealand rugby public in general have seen what Ireland have done under Joe. He's held in high regard, he's definitely made an imprint back home."
Schmidt has not coached in his native land since 2007, when he left his role as assistant coach at Auckland Blues to assist Vern Cotter at Clermont Auvergne before taking over as Leinster's head coach in 2010, beginning his successful stint in Irish rugby.
After winning six trophies in five seasons as a head coach, it is unsurprising he is attracting attention at home.
"The way he analyses the game, the opposition, the way you are playing individually and as a team is unrivalled around the world, the amount of hours he puts in. I've never seen anything like it," Payne said.
"That sets apart him from any other coaches, his work ethic and just the type of person he is in general. He's a very personable, easy-to-chat-to guy, he gets his message across very well.
"His knowledge of the game and attention to detail is unrivalled."