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Tuesday Mar 5, 2024

'I have not had a meeting with Japan!' - Joe Schmidt in fine form as he discusses Wallabies future

Former Ireland head coach and All Blacks assistant coach Joe Schmidt is widely regarded as one of the finest minds in professional rugby.

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Driving Leinster to the pinnacle of European club rugby with back-to-back Heineken Cup titles in 2010-11 and 2011-12, as well as a league title in the 2012-13 season.

This success would see Schmidt elevated to the role of Irish head coach in 2013 as Declan Kidney was relieved of his duties following a tough run post the 2011 Rugby World Cup.

Bringing his relentless drive for perfection to the Irish side, Schmidt would transform the game both on and off the pitch on the Emerald Isle.

Taking a side that lost to Italy in the 2013 Six Nations to the top of the World Rankings in 2019.

During this run, Ireland would win three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2018 (Ireland’s first since 2009). Although this success would not translate to the World Cup where Ireland seems to be eternally cursed, Schmidt played arguably the biggest role in turning Irish Rugby into the powerhouse it is today.

Returning home to New Zealand, Schmidt would be ushered into Ian Foster’s All Blacks coaching staff as the Kiwis endured a run of inconsistency unlike any in their history.

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Once firmly embedded in the All Blacks set-up, Schmidt’s influence was clear for all to see as he played a major role in getting the New Zealanders to the 2023 Rugby World Cup final.

With such a fine track record behind him, it is little surprise that he would have several suitors when his time with the All Blacks came to an end.

Taking on what has become a poisoned chalice in recent years as the Wallabies next head coach, Schmidt enters a situation not too dissimilar from the one he found when he took on the Irish job over a decade ago.

Whilst the Wallabies arguably face more competition in the hyper-competitive Australian sports market, success under Schmidt would no doubt bring the sport of Rugby Union back to the forefront of Australian consciousness, with a Lions Tour in 2025 being followed by a home World Cup in 2027.

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Speaking on the supremely entertaining Australian podcast Kick offs and Kick Ons Schmidt appeared both relaxed and excited about the challenge that lay ahead.

Coming onto the stage to join hosts James ‘The Professor’ Rochford, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell, Schmidt immediately captured the audience’s attention.

Starting off on a funny note, Rochford said, “Joe thank you for joining us on this little show, we for a long time had a catchphrase last season and it was ‘shit it in’ it’s an Australian saying and I don’t if you know this one.” Before delving into what the saying meant, “It’s basically the idea that we are going to win and that we are going to win easily and convincingly.”

Clearly grabbing Schmidt’s interest, Rochford said, “Drew slightly adapted it this year when you became coach of the Wallabies.”

Piping up, Giteau said, “We are doing it, are we?” before Mitchell said, “Oh, we are unveiling it.”

As the four hosts unbuttoned their shirts, Rochford continued on to say, “So Drew changed it to Schmidt it in.”

Clearly enjoying the moment, Schmidt laughed at the gag before being handed one of the t-shirts, which will almost certainly become a hit with the Wallabies fans!

The interview itself would for just over twenty minutes with another being a clear reference to Schmidt’s predecessor and rival Eddie Jones, Rochford would once again lead the conversation by saying, “Joe three days into the job have you fixed Australian Rugby yet?”

Laughing with somewhat of a sign, Schmidt responded with, “No”, jumping in with the next question Mitchell said, “Next question… Have you signed a contract with Japan?” To which both Schmidt and the crowd laughed.

Leaning into the joke, Schmidt said, “I haven’t had a meeting with them!” To which Giteau replied, “We have heard that before, haven’t we!”

The interview is well worth a watch as Schmidt assesses where he sees Australian Rugby as well as his plans for the future.

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