Joe Schmidt has been linked with a number of vacancies in New Zealand.
Throughout this summer, various reports emerged from New Zealand linking Joe Schmidt with a move to a number of Super Rugby franchises.
Indeed, while Ireland were touring South Africa, we exclusively revealed that Schmidt would in fact announce that he would leave his position.
Although we could not confirm what franchise he would ultimately take over, at the time Schmidt had been linked with the both the Crusaders and Highlanders.
Those reports were not without foundation. Todd Blackadder had announced his intention to step down as coach of the Crusaders before the Super Rugby season had even begun, and was rumoured to be in the running for the Munster job before deciding to take over at Bath.
Likewise, after Jamie Joseph took over as Japanese coach, the Highlanders made the odd decision to appoint Tony Brown on a one season deal, fueling speculation that Schmidt would take over in 2017.
Not only that, but the Highlanders confirmed that they had made an approach for Schmidt earlier this summer.
Schmidt has also done little to deflect the mounting speculation. Although the Irish coach had initially stated that he would make a statement regarding his future after Ireland’s tour of South Africa, Schmidt bought himself some time after he told the media he would first return to New Zealand before making a decision.
However, despite the story going cold for a few weeks, Gregor Townsend’s accession to the Scotland job and Dave Rennie’s appointment as Glasgow Warriors coach means that the Chiefs have joined the race to sign Schmidt.
Once again, this is not without foundation. Early last month Chiefs CEO ,Andrew Flexman, confirmed that the franchise were interested in Schmidt, telling Liam Napier on kiwi news site Stuff,
Joe is definitely a guy we’d be interested in having a discussion with.
I’ve been made aware of the fact there’s the potential for him to look at moving home next year.
Given what he’s achieved in his coaching career if we are looking to appoint a new head coach then he’d be an obvious candidate.
Indeed, it seems that Napier has his finger on the pulse of the ever evolving story, after claiming that Schmidt is now favourite to succeed Rennie at the Chiefs.
As the Chiefs have already confirmed that the franchise are ‘well advanced’ in their search for a new coach, an announcement might be expected sooner rather than later.
Alan Drumm, Pundit Arena
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