©INPHO/Dan Sheridan Jono Gibbes, Joe Schmidt and Greg Feek.
In Demand

About Schmidt: Leinster laugh off Blues' move for head coach

Assistant coach, Jono Gibbes, has described talk linking Joe Schmidt with a return to Auckland Blues as pure speculation.

LEINSTER FORWARDS COACH Jono Gibbes has today shrugged off speculation that Joe Schmidt is in line to return to New Zealand with the Auckland Blues.

Current Blues boss Pat Lam has presided over a disappointing season with the province lying rock bottom of the Super XV table. While some feel he could be handed an extension at the franchise, most expect Lam to be moved on.

The success of Schmidt (who was previously assistant coach with Auckland) in guiding Leinster to consecutive European finals has not gone unnoticed back home. His name is high on the wish-list with many Kiwi commentators.

Asked about the matter in a press conference today, Gibbes laughed off the rumour, feigned incredulity and offered out his palms to say:

“Did they not get my number? Really, they rang Joe? Ah I’m disappointed.”

Gibbes was apparently unaware that his name had indeed been linked with a move closer to home; with the Otago Daily Times referring to the former All Black, Schmidt and Greg Feek as “the Kiwi dream team”.

Reverting to his more serious demeanour, Gibbes added:

“It’s just speculation. They make great stories I reckon, you heard right about speculating who could be coach. It’s a good newspaper column and I think it’s just good interest more than anything. So I don’t really see too much in that.”

The Leinster camp, certainly the forwards coach, will feel that such a rumour will be an untimely distraction in a week where they must balance the rigours brought by success, a Pro12 semi-final followed seven days later by a Heineken Cup showdown with Ulster.

Gibbes, though by no means rattled by the speculation, was keen to focus on the imminent danger posed by the Glasgow Warriors, yet added:

“Anybody who follows Super Rugby will know that the Blues haven’t got the results and Pat’s job has been advertised… but we’re a few thousand miles away from that with a pretty important couple of weeks coming up. That’s our focus.”

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