Leinster forwards coach Jono Gibbes has dismissed reports in New Zealand linking Joe Schmidt with the soon-to-be-vacant Super Rugby head coach role at the Auckland Blues.
Pat Lam is currently in charge of the franchise which is languishing at the foot of the table after just one win in 10 matches and the club announced that it will be advertising the head coach’s position for the 2013 season.
That has kickstarted a flurry of speculation over prospective successors and the Leinster ticket of Schmidt, Gibbes and scrum coach Greg Feek has been described by one newspaper as the “Kiwi dream ticket”.
“It’s just speculation,” said Gibbes yesterday. “They make great stories, I reckon. It’s a good newspaper column and I think it’s just good interest more than anything. So I don’t really see too much in that.
“Anybody who follows Super Rugby will know that the Blues haven’t got the results and Pat’s job has been advertised… but we’re a few thousand miles away from that with a pretty important couple of weeks coming up. That’s our focus.”
Gibbes didn’t even bother to follow up with the usual ‘flattered to be mentioned’ line so often heard in these circumstances and a quick glance at the list of candidates printed by the Otago Daily Times may reveal why.
John Kirwan, Wayne Smith, Rob Penney, Mark Anscombe, Vern Cotter and Warren Gatland were others name-checked or, in other words, pretty much every high-profile Kiwi coach regardless of commitments already made elsewhere for next season.
That said, the rumours have served to take yet more attention away from tomorrow’s RaboDirect Pro12 semi-final against Glasgow at the RDS, a game which was already struggling for oxygen, given it falls just seven days before the Heineken Cup final.
At least Leinster appear to be giving it their full attention.
“That whole preparation, the eight months or whatever, has gone into this last month and now that we’ve arrived here I don’t really see us going away from what we’ve used the whole year which is what’s in front of us and what’s important,” said Gibbes.
“Whatever the result on Saturday night, come Sunday morning it’s the start of the next week and progression from there. Glasgow stand alone with the game. They deserve respect.
“They would love to be reading all about people talking about next week because they’ll come with a lot of confidence. They are well coached and they’ve got some pedigree. It’s a one-off game and their quality demands respect and attention.”
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