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Thursday 8 December 2016

Schmidt stays . . . But only until 2017 - when the All Blacks job is up for grabs

Joe Schmidt has extended his Ireland contract by one more year
Joe Schmidt has extended his Ireland contract by one more year

Joe Schmidt has extended his Ireland contract by just one more year, leaving the New Zealander open to moving on in 2017.

Last December, the All Blacks incumbent coach Steve Hansen signed on for further duty until the conclusion of the British & Irish Lions tour in 2017.

The symmetry could be co-incidental, could be so much more than that.

The Lions tour to The Land of the Long White Cloud begins in June of 2017 well after Schmidt's Six Nations commitments.

Another Kiwi, Warren Gatland, will be keen to make a triumphant return to his homeland as a potential two-time winning coach of the tourists.

Schmidt's back-to-back Six Nations with Ireland and his reputation for playing more than one way make him a contender.

The IRFU and Schmidt could have warded off any suggestions of the lure of The Lions or New Zealand by sealing a longer term. After all, the demise of former Leinster coach Matt O'Connor was partly designed around the impossibility of following in the footsteps of Schmidt.

It is no secret that the IRFU wanted Schmidt for as long as he was willing to stay.

In fairness, the Ireland coach has never been one to wear out his welcome or to agitate for a long-term arrangement.

He signed on for one more year at Leinster only to short circuit that deal at the behest of the IRFU.

There is also the significant matter of his family and where their future is best served, particularly in light of the well-documented epilepsy of son Luke.

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