Schmidt not closing door on All Blacks

Joe Schmidt. Photo: Getty Images
Joe Schmidt. Photo: Getty Images
Joe Schmidt has admitted that he will "never say never" in regards to coaching the All Blacks in the future.

The Ireland head coach had not spoken about his future since his shock announcement last month, where he announced – shortly after leading Ireland to a 16-9 victory over the All Blacks in Dublin – that he will "finish coaching" following the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.

But speaking today in Dublin after winning the Manager of the Year, Schmidt, who said that he would be stepping away from coaching to spend more time with his family, explained his decision and left the door open to a possible role with the All Blacks.

"For me, there is the older generation and my son the younger generation that will take up a lot of time in those 12 months post finishing," he said in Dublin after he took out Ireland's top coaching prize.

"I'm looking forward to that as a different sort of challenge because I don't get home very often [to New Zealand]. I'm away a lot and in the coming year I'm going to be out of the home for more days than I am in the home."

Schmidt agreed that his family and his son, Luke, who has battled a brain tumour since age four and suffers from epilepsy, factored into his decision to step away from coaching after the world cup.

Yesterday, the New Zealand Herald revealed that Schmidt rebuffed an approach from New Zealand Rugby to join the All Blacks coaching team late last year.

NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew confirmed to the Herald that Schmidt turned down an offer to return home and replace Wayne Smith in the All Blacks, choosing instead to re-sign for two years with Ireland through to the World Cup.

"I would say it is difficult not to stay where I am," Schmidt said today in regards to rejecting the offer to join the All Blacks in 2017.

"It's difficult not to keep doing what I am doing with a fantastic group of people. Whatever decision you make you never say never but you're always trying to be the best you can in a very short term you have left.

"For me that's 11 months. I'm not looking any more forward than that."

Schmidt has overseen the most successful period in Ireland's history, winning three Six Nations titles (2014, 2015) including a Grand Slam (2018), a first win on South African soil (2016), a first win over New Zealand (2016) and a series win in Australia (2018).

Ireland assistant coach Andy Farrell will take over Schmidt's job after the Rugby World Cup next year.

Meanwhile, Hansen is expected to make a decision about his future within the next 48 hours.

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