Schmidt rules out taking Lions role

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Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has ruled out taking a role with the British and Irish Lions on the tour of New Zealand next year.

Lions boss Warren Gatland this week said there was an opportunity for his fellow Kiwi Schmidt to join the coaching staff for the tour of their homeland after Ireland ended New Zealand's record 18-match winning run in Chicago last weekend.

Schmidt, who was talked up as a potential contender to lead the Lions, has revealed that he will instead embark on Ireland's tour of the US and Japan.

He said: "I didn't decide to take up the option of a break clause. The contract was there, it was just that there was a break clause that I didn't opt for.

"A big part of the motivation for me not being involved in the Lions was going to the USA and Japan and working with this next cadre of players.

"The best of our players will go on the Lions and the more the better. That would be fantastic and hopefully a few more will put their hands up for Warren Gatland on Saturday [when Ireland face Canada in Dublin].

"But the ones that don't go, they will become a really interesting group for us. I want to make sure I get to know those guys, and getting away on tour is one of the best ways to do it."

Gatland also gave a strong indication that Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell could on the Lions staff and Schmidt would not stand in the Englishman's way.

"I would be delighted if Andy went," he said. "Firstly, because he is a tremendous coach and he does a fantastic job.

"And it also means that Andy will keep a bit of an eye on our guys. It is certainly one collective but he will be able to give us a bit of feedback on how our guys are going there.

"So we will have both bases covered there. That would be quite nice but those will be decisions that are not mine to make."