Joe Schmidt selector role a "stepping stone" to All Blacks top job - Seán O'Brien
"It's definitely looking that way."
Seán O'Brien played for nine years under Joe Schmidt, at Leinster and with Ireland. He has no doubts that the Kiwi will not take long to make an impact with the All Blacks.
Schmidt stepped down as head coach of Ireland after the 2019 World Cup and took up a high performance management role with World Rugby. After taking a break from the day-to-day of rugby coaching, it was never going to be long before he eventually got back involved. He loves the game too much to keep at too much a distance.
It was confirmed, on Tuesday, that Schmidt would be stepping in as an independent selector with Ian Foster's All Blacks from August 2022, and replacing Grant Fox in the role.
On the latest House of Rugby episode [LISTEN from 32:00 below], O'Brien and co-host Alex Goode discuss Schmidt's new job with the All Blacks and whether it will lead to the head coach job.
Seán O'Brien on Joe Schmidt's All Blacks gig
When Alex Goode raised the news of Schmidt taking up the selector's job, and asked if this was merely "a stepping stone" for the former Ireland coach, O'Brien nodded along.
"This is the thing," he said. "I think it is.
"It's a great move for him. I don't think he'll coach the way he coached us, for instance, if he goes into that All Blacks set-up.
"And I don't think they'll allow him to coach them like he coached us, in terms of being so structured. But, an incredible and intelligent coach. A great man. He will love being in that environment. He will learn and love being around those good players.
"It will be interesting to see what role he has in two, three years time there. But I definitely think it's leading that way - getting him involved with the All Blacks in some capacity. The one thing they will have now, with him even in the background, is detail and discipline. That's a big thing."
O'Brien believes that even though Schmidt is coming in as that independent selector, he will have big say in how things are run. "They'll be looking to get an insight from him as to how things worked in the northern hemisphere," he says.
"Because I genuinely believe that New Zealand, South Africa, Australia and even Argentina, their discipline, at times, is not as good as it is up here. Joe will help New Zealand a lot with that element of it, and know how we play and how we operate."
Current All Blacks head coach Ian Foster is under pressure, back in New Zealand, despite winning The Rugby Championship. Foster's side lost their final championship game against the Springboks and then lost two end-of-year tour games in a row, to Ireland and France.