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Tuesday 25 July 2017

Schmidt has the vision to be the All Blacks next coach

Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt

Warren Gatland could be one more sensational win away from convincing New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew that he is the man to follow in Steve Hansen's footsteps.

The two Kiwis have traded insults and accusations for the best part of a month.

Hansen looked the superior rugby intellect in the first test; Gatland in the second.

No matter what they think of, or feel for, each other, there is respect, grudging or not, between two career coaches.

The perceived wisdom was that the All Blacks would sweep the Lions 3-0. That won't happen now.

No matter what, Gatland has resurrected his candidacy to lead New Zealand after the 2019 Rugby World Cup when Hansen is expected to step aside.

In fact, the Lions' success could just be another ingredient for the Irish Rugby Football Union to keep Joe Schmidt beyond the end of his current contract, also in 2019.

"You'd have to ask Joe if he wants to apply for the job, but he's obviously a very good coach," said New Zealand Rugby Union Chief Executive Steve Tew.

"We've kept in contact with Joe about the job, like we've kept in touch with Vern Cotter and others.

"Where do I start and stop? There's Jamie Joseph, there's Warren Gatland, there's Pat Lam and others and we will consider a number of options. Joe is among those options.

"We'll be having a conversation with our board in the second-half of this year about the process that will run.

"Then, we'll make that known to everybody once it's done and dusted."

This is where the influence of Hansen could count against Gatland in what is a fractious personal relationship.

"I'm sure Steve will voice his opinion about who will be the next coach because he has invested a huge amount in this team," Tew added.

"He won't have a vote, but his experience and understanding of the side means he will be someone who will be consulted."

Tew is certain the next All Blacks coach will have "a good grounding in New Zealand rugby" and "a good vision" for what they can do.

"I think Joe is someone who might have that," said Tew.

"But we would hope all the New Zealand coaches who are offshore would be keeping an eye on the job and considering it as an option.

"Ultimately, it will come down to who applies, who we see as the best candidate, and who has the best team around them to take the team forward."

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