A two-horse race looks to have become three with another candidate emerging from the woodwork to become the new All Blacks head coach.
Incumbent All Blacks assistant coach Joe Schmidt is reportedly eyeing up the job currently held by Ian Foster.
Following this year’s Rugby World Cup in France, Foster will step down from his post.
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Last week, New Zealand Rugby said it would make a decision on who leads the All Blacks from 2024 onwards.
Japan coach Jamie Joseph and six-time Super Rugby-winning coach Scott Robertson are the leading candidates for the role.
However, Schmidt’s late inclusion could throw a spanner in the works.
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While Robertson is thought to be the favourite even without international experience, the prospect of promoting a known quantity in Schmidt might sway New Zealand Rugby.
According to Stuff.co.nz, Schmidt was initially not interested in the job but has softened his stance of late and has the support of the playing group.
When senior All Blacks were told about the forthcoming head coach change, players reportedly asked whether Schmidt would stay on board.
Schmidt is a competitive candidate alongside Robertson and Joseph.
Although he never took Ireland to Rugby World Cup success – only ever getting as far as the quarter-finals – Schmidt did win the Six Nations on three occasions and took them to the top of the world rankings in 2018.
He was responsible for two wins over the All Blacks in Chicago and Dublin.
At the premiership level, Schmidt claimed the Pro 12 title and two Heineken Cup crowns across three seasons with Leinster.
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If he does get the job, Schmidt would be the second consecutive assistant coach to be promoted after Foster before him who was Steve Hansen’s offsider.
Hansen and his predecessor Graham Henry were both New Zealand products with international success before joining the All Blacks.
A new coach is expected to be announced in the next three to five weeks.
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