Leinster eye O’Connor as Schmidt prepares for green light to succeed Kidney

All that remains now is the timing.

Joe Schmidt will be the next Ireland head coach. He knows it. The IRFU know it. Everyone knows it. Finding a window to announce it officially remains the only issue now.

The smoke signals in the capital over the weekend suggested the new chief may well be hailed as early as today and, if not then, by midweek.

Tomorrow would appear to be a non-runner given the Lions will announce their squad in London at 11am.

With Leinster preparing all week for a crucial RaboDirect PRO12 Friday fixture against the Ospreys the margins are tight and yet it needs doing sooner rather than later.

“I know you guys are frustrated, it’s the same for me,” said Schmidt after Leinster’s Amlin Challenge Cup defeat of Biarritz on Saturday.

“Just for the clarity for Leinster, even then if there is something decisive I have to get that clearance from Leinster.”

Schmidt’s CV and intimate knowledge of the Irish system made him the standout applicant to succeed Declan Kidney but his no-nonsense views on some of the structures within which he has had to work are well-known.

Answering to an amateur committee in and around major Tests is one of the areas with which the Kiwi is said to have an issue and he was asked over the weekend whether he would have to compromise on some areas.

“We haven’t got that far in the discussions.

“I don’t know if I will (compromise), it is one of those difficult questions to answer because, until it is concrete, there is always something nebulous about it.

“You can’t make plans when you have Biarritz in the week and a six-day turnaround for the Ospreys who we feel, from last year (when they beat Leinster in the PRO12 final), we’re keen to get a result against them.”

Leicester Tigers head coach, Matt O’Connor, has leapfrogged to the top of the queue to replace Schmidt at Leinster, with reports over the weekend stating that the Australian has recently met with club and IRFU officials.

O’Connor would step into an environment flush with experienced and successful players, although it remains to be seen if Brian O’Driscoll is one of them despite the RDS crowd’s serenading of their favourite son with “one more year” on Saturday.

“I’d be delighted if the crowd can keep that pressure on,” said Schmidt who would surely love to have O’Driscoll in his Ireland plans next season. “If he signs for another year it would be good for the players he plays with and the youth at the club who he spends a lot of time with.

“He has been really good for our guys. I know Eoin O’Malley hasn’t played a lot this year, but he has benefited from Brian and Brendan Macken too has learned a lot. Guys who get to play inside and outside him, that’s a benefit to have around and the guy he is, the person he is – he’s a great guy to have around the environment.”

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