Highlanders approach Ireland head coach Schmidt


Highlanders have made an approach to gauge Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt's interest in taking charge of the Super Rugby champions in 2018.

New Zealander Schmidt signed a contract extension to remain as Ireland boss until next June after masterminding back-to-back Six Nations triumphs before his side were dethroned by England this year.

Schmidt revealed he will make a decision on his future following Ireland's current tour of South Africa, where they beat the Springboks 26-20 on Saturday to take a 1-0 lead in the three-match series.

And Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark has revealed that the Dunedin-based franchise are interested in appointing Schmidt when Troy Brown vacates his post in two years' time.

"I've gone round and deliberately contacted coaches like Schmidt overseas and talked to all of them to see what their thinking is around coming back to New Zealand and also coaching the Highlanders," Clark told Newstalk ZB.

"They're all looking at the opportunities looking towards 2019. Even though [New Zealand coach Steve Hansen] hasn't committed yet, they know that's going to be the case. They're all looking at opportunities towards there.

"They know they've got to be coaching Super Rugby and they know there's not too many options in Super Rugby because we've got a number of coaches that are locked in until 2019 now."

Brown will step up to the role of Highlanders head coach for just one year when Jamie Joseph starts his reign as Japan boss at the end of the Super Rugby season.