Joe Schmidt has welcomed the “super but intimidating” prospect of leading Ireland after being appointed head coach until 2016.
Schmidt’s promotion from Leinster, whom he guided to successive Heineken Cup crowns in 2011 and 2012, was confirmed yesterday when he signed a three-year contract.
The 52-year-old New Zealander will officially begin work on 1 July, with Les Kiss – the attack coach under Schmidt’s predecessor Declan Kidney – overseeing the summer tour to the USA and Canada.
“When I came to Leinster in 2010 I didn’t really want to be a head coach, but I’ve really enjoyed the experience since,” Schmidt said. “I’m really motivated by challenge and this is a super but intimidating one.
“If you’re going to find out what you can bring to a group, what better way than to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby.
“I’ve had a good look at Ireland’s players and when we get our collective together, we’ll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible.”
Kidney, mastermind of the 2009 Grand Slam triumph, was removed after presiding over a fifth-place finish in the RBS 6 Nations – Ireland’s worst performance in the event since 1999.
Kiss and Ewen McKenzie were considered for the post – Jake White, Conor O’Shea and Mark McCall had ruled themselves out – but Schmidt was viewed as the outstanding candidate after his success at Leinster.
His provincial duties will prevent him from making an immediate start as Leinster are through to the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup and remain in RaboDirect PRO12 title contention.