Joe Schmidt tipped to become next Australia head coach

Colin Newboult
Joe Schmidt coaching at the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Joe Schmidt coaching at the Rugby World Cup in 2023.

Ex-All Blacks coach Joe Schmidt has been backed to take over from Eddie Jones and lead the Wallabies into the next Rugby World Cup.

The former Ireland boss, who led them at both the 2015 and 2019 global tournaments, is highly regarded in the game.

Schmidt played a key part in New Zealand’s revival after joining Ian Foster’s backroom team in July 2022.

They came so close to lifting the World Cup, but it was the Springboks who eventually prevailed as Jacques Nienaber’s men secured a 12-11 victory in the showpiece event.

Changes after the World Cup

Following the conclusion of the global tournament, Foster was replaced by Scott Robertson as All Blacks head coach, while Schmidt has also departed.

He has been linked to several roles but he could well be a good fit for Australia, who are searching for their next boss after Jones resigned.

“There’s a few names being bandied about,” ex-Ireland performance analyst Eoin Toolan told the Rugby Weekly Extra podcast.

“Does it need to be an Aussie? I’m not so sure, I think you need to get the right guy into the position.

“I’ve got to say, I think the job Joe Schmidt did with New Zealand… I don’t think they’re making a World Cup final if Joe Schmidt doesn’t come in and bail out Ian Foster.

“That would be an intriguing appointment, particularly if it was in tandem with David Nucifora. We saw the positive impact they had on Irish rugby.”

The Wallabies are looking to get back on track after what has been a dreadful 2023, which culminated in them exiting the World Cup at the pool stages.

There are several people that have been linked to the role, including Dan McKellar and Stephen Larkham, who have experience of being involved in the Australian coaching set-up.

“There will be multiple candidates. Does Dan McKellar come back from Leicester or does he need some time out of the Australia game and start to build some experience in the northern hemisphere? That would probably be a good thing for the longevity of his career,” Toolan said.

“Stephen Larkham is the other name being bandied about down here. He had a pretty good first year back at the Brumbies and learned a lot from his time in Munster.

“So there’s no shortage of candidates. It’s still an attractive role given that it’s the 2025 Lions into a home World Cup in 2027 and the talent is there if they’re coached correctly. They probably need to tweak the Giteau Law (for players based abroad) and look at what they do with Super Rugby.”

David Nucifora to join him?

Toolan believes that Schmidt alongside David Nucifora, who he has backed to take over in a high performance role, would be the best partnership.

Nucifora is set to leave the Irish Rugby Football Union in 2024, with David Humphreys replacing him, and would be available to Australian rugby.

However, with the British and Irish Lions series not far away, Rugby Australia might want someone in position right away.

“He would be the ideal fit but I have no understanding of what the current relationship is like,” Toolan added.

“The timing wouldn’t be ideal. He is committed to Paris 2024 and when you think of the Lions series in 2025, it’s not that far away, 18 or 19 months, so they really need to get their house in order. I’m not sure if there would be an early release for Nucifora but there is an urgency needed with this appointment.

“You want the right guy in the seat and Nucifora would strike you as the most suitable appointment, but we’ll see in the next two to three weeks what develops.”

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