IRFU provide update on Joe Schmidt's future and insist there's a succession plan in place
Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt is contracted with the IRFU until the end of the 2019 Rugby World Cup but his future with the union is still very much up in the air.
Schmidt is among the favourites to replace New Zealand head coach Steve Hansen after next year's World Cup with the All Blacks boss set to resign from his post with the national team after 15 years of service.
New Zealand Rugby Chief Executive Steve Tew said that he has been keeping in contact with Schmidt about possibly taking over from Hansen next year and IRFU Performance Director David Nucifora has said that him and Schmidt talk regularly about his future with the national team but that he must ultimately decide where he wants to be next year.
"It's a personal decision for Joe with what he wants to do," Nucifora told RTÉ Sport's Michael Corcoran in Sydney.
"We maintained his services last time to bring him through to this World Cup. He's been in this part of the world a long time and he's got some choices to make.
"We would definitely like him to stay. We've been able to put in place a world class coaching team around Joe until the end of the 2020 season. If Joe decides to moves at least we are in a position to ensure that continuity would be maintained with the other coaches that are involved.
"There is talent within that coaching group. Until we have a decision on what Joe decides to do, we are only on what could be and what might be."
Nucifora added that a decision on Schmidt's future would be made at some point before the start of next year's Rugby World Cup.
Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster would be a front runner for the Ireland job after helping transform Leinster from a Champions Cup Pool stage side to PRO14 and European champions.
Lancaster recently distanced himself from taking over at English Premiership side Harlequins as he commits his long term future to Leinster and Irish Rugby.
“I am 100 per cent committed here. It would also be 100 per cent the wrong thing to do to start talking about trying to win something at Leinster and at the same time try and create an opportunity elsewhere. I wouldn’t even contemplate doing it.”