Steve Hansen comments are the last thing Irish fans want to hear today
A smack of looming reality to snap us out of our All Blacks-slaying euphoria.
Steve Hansen and Joe Schmidt have great respect for each other. They may have faced off four times as rival international coaches - winning two apiece - but they are mutual fans of the other's work.
Ahead of Ireland's 16-9 win over Hansen's New Zealand, 'Shag' sought out Schmidt for a handshake, and to deliver him what looked to be a note. Turns out, it was an envelope. Following the game, Hansen said:
"It was €760. We had a bet!
"No, no, not really. But it was €760 because I bought some tickets, and he was the only bloke I could get some tickets off! When you buy them, you have to pay for them. So I thought, 'Well, I'll get it out of the way early'."
As for Schmidt's own coaching ticket, and whether the latest All Blacks win he masterminded could land him the New Zealand job, Hansen commented:
"Obviously, he's a good coach. The one thing I do know about being the head coach is, if you win you get all the credit and if you lose you get smacked a bit.
"But you don't do it unless you've got a great team around you. While Joe deserves the credit, so do the others in his coaching group."
Hansen went on to shower praise on the likes of Andy Farrell, Simon Easterby and 'another Kiwi they've got', scrum coach Greg Feek.
Steve Hansen says he didn't hand Joe Schmidt a note before he game... but doled over €760 for some match tickets Schmidt sorted for him pic.twitter.com/quWXw4doB4
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) November 18, 2018
Before New Zealand flew out to Rome, for their final tour match against Italy, however, Hansen made a comment that will set alarm bells ringing here.
Asked if Schmidt would be favourite to succeed him for the All Blacks job, Hansen told reporters:
"Well, I don’t know you’ll have to ask Joe.
"We’re all going to be making an announcement shortly. I decided before I left [New Zealand] that I was going to make an announcement, and I’ll do that before Christmas at some stage."
Schmidt, himself, has already confirmed that he will announce his future intentions at the end of the Guinness Series.
Although he got his Irish citizenship four years ago, and has been living here since 2010, there is a fear that Schmidt could feel that the time will be right to move back to his home-land after the 2019 World Cup.
That decision is coming on faster than a fired-up Irish defensive line.