Joe Schmidt: 'Never say never' on possible coaching return

Joe Schmidt: 'Never say never' on possible coaching return

Joe Schmidt has not ruled out returning to coaching some day.

It was only at the end of November when the Ireland head coach declared his intention to step away from the game for good after Ireland's World Cup campaign in Japan ends late next year.

The Kiwi's decision to walk away from rugby was a major surprise when announced. The expectation was that he would either remain at the helm with Ireland or move back to New Zealand with a view to one day taking the All Blacks job.

Philips Manager Of The Year, Ireland Rugby head coach Joe Schmidt. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson
Philips Manager Of The Year, Ireland Rugby head coach Joe Schmidt. Pic: INPHO/Tommy Dickson

A report in the New Zealand Herald on Wednesday revealed that Schmidt had been asked back to his native country to take on a role with the world champions last year. New Zealand's head coach Steve Hansen is due to reveal his own future plans in the next day or so.

“I would say it is difficult not to stay where I am,” said Schmidt when asked if it had been difficult to turn down the All Blacks at the time.

“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 was speaking publicly for the first time about his reasons for cutting short his illustrious coaching career and he admitted that family was the primary concern in coming to a decision that clearly wasn't easy for him.

“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. I’m looking forward to that as a different sort of challenge because I don’t get home very often. 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.

“It’s a tough enough decision to come to terms with. For me I’m just fully focused on the next 11 months. It couldn’t be a bigger 11 months for us. We’ve got England in seven and a half weeks. I’m pretty good at shortening the focus. As a group we just want to roll our sleeves up and stay as competitive as we can.”

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