Joe Schmidt is in the running to replace Steve Hansen as the All Blacks head coach, according to the New Zealand Rugby Union CEO.
The Ireland head coach is contracted until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup – the same time that Steve Hansen is likely to hand over the reigns of the All Blacks job.
New Zealand Rugby Union chief executive Steve Tew says they’ve kept in contact with Schmidt about the job, and that he is on a long-list that also includes Lions chief Warren Gatland and ex Connacht coach Pat Lam.
Speaking to the Irish Times Tew said, “You’d have to ask Joe if he wants to apply for the job, but he’s obviously a very good coach.
“We’ve kept in contact with Joe about the job, like we’ve kept in touch with Vern Cotter and others.”
Schmidt has long been associated as a potential All Blacks coach in the future and his stock has only risen after he guided Ireland to a historic win over New Zealand in Chicago last year.
Speaking about any potential candidates, Tew added: “The critical thing from our point of view is we’re not going to appoint someone who doesn’t have a good grounding in New Zealand rugby and who doesn’t have a good vision for the team that we can all buy into.
“I think Joe is someone who might have that, but we would hope all the New Zealand coaches who are offshore would be keeping an eye on the job and considering it as an option.”