Joe Schmidt (file pic). Billy Stickland/INPHO

Joe Schmidt rules himself out of All Blacks coaching race

Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph are believed to be the frontrunners for the role.

NEW ZEALAND assistant coach Joe Schmidt confirmed on Saturday he won’t lead the All Blacks next year, saying his focus will not extend beyond this year’s Rugby World Cup.

Schmidt, the former Ireland head coach, responded to speculation he was in contention to replace outgoing top man Ian Foster by issuing a short statement, ruling himself out of an expedited New Zealand Rugby appointment process.

It is widely believed two former All Blacks forwards — Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph — are the only contenders to take the top spot when Foster stands down after the World Cup.

The new coach is expected to be unveiled by mid-April after NZ Rugby announced this month it wants to ensure it recruits a world-class candidate in a competitive market.

New Zealander Schmidt took up a Super Rugby Pacific assistant role with the Auckland Blues last year before joining the All Blacks coaching staff as an assistant.

The 57-year-old said the head coaching appointment process comes too soon for him as he is reluctant to make any commitment for 2024.

“I have really enjoyed being back on the grass coaching with the (Auckland) Blues and the All Blacks,” Schmidt said.

“I very much appreciate those opportunities, but presented with a condensed time frame this year, I won’t be applying for any coaching roles that extend beyond the Rugby World Cup.

“In the shorter term, I will work hard to support the All Blacks in 2023.”

In seven years as Irish head coach, he clinched three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2018, and led them to their first-ever wins over New Zealand.

Ireland climbed to number one in the world rankings for the first time the following year but Schmidt’s reign ended on the low of a heavy loss to the All Blacks in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup — their same exit point as the 2015 tournament.

Robertson is the favourite to take charge in 2024 after leading the Canterbury Crusaders to six Super Rugby titles.

Joseph boasts more international experience, having coached Japan since finishing as coach of the Otago Highlanders in 2016.

Foster has been critical of the timing of the appointment process, saying it could prove to be a distraction for him and the All Blacks players this year.

– © AFP 2023


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