Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed that he is considering an offer from the Highlanders
The 50-year-old is in no rush to make a decision over his future
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark confirmed last week that he had approached Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has confirmed that he is considering an offer from the Highlanders but is in no hurry to make the decision.
Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark confirmed last week that he had approached Schmidt about returning home to New Zealand for the 2018 season.
Speaking from South Africa Schmidt said that his current focus was on Ireland.
“Whatever happens, this is the full focus of my attention and the one thing I want to do no matter what happens in the future is I want to leave Irish rugby in as good a shape as possible,” he told Stuff.
“If that’s this time next year or if it’s in three years time, I’m not sure,” said Schmidt.
“All I know is that this is something we’ve got to try to do and we’re investing a lot of time and effort into the players, into trying to be as good with a broader group as we possibly can be.
“Hopefully, there’ll be some evidence of that this weekend.
“This was always a chance for us to broaden that and no matter what happens, the coaching group as it is, are in great shape. I have less and less to do with it.”
When asked if his move to the Highlanders was already a done deal Schmidt said, “No, that was on the back of one conversation that Roger Clark had with me and I have made absolutely no commitment to the Highlanders. I’ve made no commitment to anyone other than my current employers.
“I think it happens to a lot of coaches every so often, because I think that the clubs are always forward planning. Provinces, clubs, franchises know when their staff are coming off contract and therefore they often become aware of when other coaches are coming off contract.
“They find out whether there’s any interest or not. I haven’t had any more than a very light conversation with Rog and I think they’ve done a super job down there at the Highlanders.
“I watched their semifinal and final last year. I don’t want to go in and muck them up anyway, they look like they’re doing just fine anyway by themselves.
“Tony Brown is a guy I know a bit and Scott McLeod and those guys are still going to be around there next year and I don’t think, for me, that it’s a distraction.
“I haven’t even given it any thought to be honest, because the conversation was just before the tour and I’ve very much got my hands full right now.”
Schmidt coached Leinster to back to back European Cup titles before moving on to Ireland where he coached them to back to back Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015.
If Schmidt does not take charge of the Highlanders then former Hurricanes and current Sunwolves coach Mark Hammett is a possible option as he will join the southern Super Rugby franchise next season as an assistant.