LEINSTER’S SOON-TO-BE retired back Isa Nacewa has backed new Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt to take the promotion in his stride.
The double Heineken Cup-winning boss was today confirmed as the new national team chief, by the IRFU. He will hold his first press conference alongside union chief executive Philip Browne at 4pm.
“Joe’s an outstanding coach,” said Nacewa, who is entering the final weeks of his playing career. ”The performances over the past few years prove that. Every team he’s been with is successful, it’s a great thing for Irish rugby.
“It’s purely new challenge for him doing an international job but most of the players would agree that he gets the best out of players on and off the field and I’m sure that he’ll bind the four provinces together. So it’s a new challenge for him but one he’ll definitely be up to.”
One of Schmidt’s backroom staff, Richie Murphy, insisted he had yet to have a conversation with his boss about following him to the national set-up.
“Delighted for Joe,” said Murphy earlier. “On a personal level I think it’s a fantastic opportunity for him. From a Leinster point of view, I’m very sad to lose him. He’s been a fantastic coach for the staff and players and I think everyone will be sad to see him go.
“That conversation [about leaving] hasn’t happened, obviously I have another 12 months like the other two boys with Leinster. We’ve been getting ready for that match at the weekend, obviously there’s been stuff going on in the background but those conversations haven’t happened yet.”