ABs great tips Schimdt to replace Hansen

Joe Schmidt arrives at Twickenham ahead of Ireland's win over England recently. Photo: Getty Images
Joe Schmidt arrives at Twickenham ahead of Ireland's win over England recently. Photo: Getty Images
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt has received another tick of approval as the rumours continue to mount that he could be the next All Blacks coach.

Schmidt's contract with Ireland ends after the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as does the contract of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, with both coaches indicating they won't stay on after the Cup finale.

As a result, the New Zealand-born Schmidt has been heavily linked to returning to his birthplace, and his recent success in leading Ireland to the Grand Slam and Six Nations title has made him the hottest property in world rugby.

Former All Blacks centre Conrad Smith believes Schmidt could be the top candidate to replace Hansen if the World Cup winning coach steps aside after the Japan event.

"Within New Zealand rugby and with players he worked with before coming overseas, he was always highly regarded," Smith told the Irish Independent.

"That filters back from players he has coached up here. He's a very good operator. He has a very good reputation."

Smith believes that Schmidt is now of the calibre where he wouldn't have to coach a Super Rugby side before getting the All Blacks job, and his overseas experience could follow in the mould of Hansen and former coach Graham Henry.

"Kiwis, we love to claim people from New Zealand, especially when they're successful, so we're well aware of him and it's helped by the fact our previous coaches have worked overseas - Graham Henry, Steve Hansen.

"It really helps if you've been over and experienced the way rugby is played and operates up here, it can only help your CV and your intel about the game, so I don't think that'd be much of an issue.

"He's well within the talks. He's doing great with Ireland. He's someone who could potentially come back and coach the All Blacks."

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