Ronan O'Gara thinks that Joe Schmidt will return to coach in New Zealand 11 months ago

Ronan O'Gara thinks that Joe Schmidt will return to coach in New Zealand

Former Ireland fly-half and Crusaders assistant coach Ronan O'Gara feels that Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt will ultimately return to coach in New Zealand some day.

Schmidt looks set to walk away from coaching at the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup after recently announcing his decision to step down from his role as Ireland head coach following next year's tournament in Japan.

The New Zealander has coached in Ireland since 2010 but decided after last month's November internationals to step down from his role with the national team to spend more time with his family.

However, O'Gara, who has also voiced support for Crusaders coach Scott Robertson after New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen announced his decision to step down from his post with the All Blacks after next year's World Cup, envisages Schmidt returning to his native New Zealand to take up a potential role the defending world champions.

"Media here has been very quick to seize upon his ‘never say never’ comments in Dublin this week as an indicator that he might well consider the All Black post in 2020," O'Gara wrote in his Irish Examiner column.

"I personally happen to believe that Joe will return to coaching in New Zealand, but I also fully accept the bona fides of his comments that once the World Cup is done, he wants to give back his family some of the time they’ve been without him while he was in charge of Ireland.

"Timing, as always, is everything. Could Joe be in charge of the All Blacks for 2023? It seems only John Delaney has the capacity to appoint coaches and their replacements, but I sincerely doubt that the likes of Foster would be prepared to keep the seat warm for Schmidt if he replaces Hansen.

"Which is why I suspect the NZRU will take as much time as they need to get the succession stakes right."

Former Ireland winger Andrew Trimble said on Baz & Andrews's House of Rugby recently that he finds it hard to imagine the New Zealander not transferring his leadership skills to another industry

"It will be interesting to see if Joe just stops working," added Trimble.

"I would be really interested to see what he gets into. Even if he just takes a year or two off eventually his style of leadership and management obviously works very well in a rugby context but I think it could work in any context. Any kind of business context.

"You could imagine he'd be getting offers left, right and centre for that style, that really detailed and pragmatic style to executing and delivering in sport, be it business, be it anything. He could do what he wants that fella."

Schmidt will be succeeded as Ireland head coach by assistant coach Andy Farrell after the World Cup and the three-time Six Nations winner believes that the Irish Rugby team is in good hands regardless of his presence.

"I have decided to finish coaching and will prioritise family commitments after the RWC in 2019," he said last month.

"I feel that Irish rugby is in good hands. The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but where ever we have travelled has been uplifting.

"Thank you to the IRFU for their support and patience and thanks also to so many people who have adopted my family and me, making us feel part of the community here in Ireland."