Hush rumours suggesting Ireland's New Zealand-born rugby coach Joe Schmidt is still a contender for the All Blacks coaching job.

That's the message from Schmidt, the former Napier Boys' High School 1st XV rugby coach, who will be in Hastings on Friday night to speak at a Hawke's Bay Rugby Union fundraising dinner.

"I can't do it in the short term. I've got family priorities I need to deal with after the World Cup. I need to care of those for a period of time," Schmidt said.

"Luke has been incredible while dealing with some tough moments. I want to help him make the transition from school to the work place a smooth one."


He was referring to his teenage son who is one of his four children. While Schmidt, who will return to Ireland on Sunday after a 14-day holiday in New Zealand, didn't want to elaborate on his son's illness it is understood Luke suffers from epilepsy and battled a brain tumour when he was younger.

When Schmidt, 53, was asked who he believed would get the All Blacks job, the sidestep was just as good as the ones he produced when playing his 29 first class games for Manawatu as an outside back before the turn of the century.

"I can't answer that one."

When asked which of his two wins against the All Blacks with Ireland, the 40-29 victory in Chicago in 2016 and 16-9 nailbiter in Dublin last November, was the most memorable the Woodville-raised Schmidt said "both were a bit of a blur".

"Because the Chicago Cubs baseball team won the World Series for the first tine in 108 years when we were in Chicago there was so much hype. There were five million people there for the victory parade on the Friday before we played at Soldier Field. That was Ireland's first win against the All Blacks so it was pretty special. Last November's one was pretty special too," Schmidt explained.

Taking those victories into account the question had to be put to the former Blues and Clermont assistant coach and former Leinster head coach who has been in charge of Ireland since 2013. Was he confident about Ireland's chances of at least reaching the final of this year's World Cup in Japan?

"You're never confident. You're always worried about what can go wrong," Schmidt replied.

He pointed out Ireland and Leinster flanker Dan Leavy ruled himself out of the World Cup when he collected a knee injury at the weekend.


"While you hope you don't lose players you are already starting to look at scenarios should something happen. At the last World Cup we lost five of our top players right before the quarterfinal ... that can happen. You have to try and build depth to mitigate that.

"We won't know what players we will have until after the summer break at the end of the season. This is why we took a different approach during the Six Nations. We trialled different combinations to build our depth and leadership group so if something goes wrong during the World Cup in terms of injuries we have guys with a bit of experience," Schmidt explained.

The former New Zealand Schools team mentor refused to accept Ireland shouldn't be tested too much in pool play against the likes of Scotland, Japan, Russia and Samoa. He reminded fans Scotland lost 22-17 to the All Blacks in 2017 and Japan caused the upset of the 2015 World Cup when they pipped South Africa 34-32.

"With Jamie Joseph and Tony Brown coaching Japan they will be really well prepared. You just have to look at how competitive the Sunwolves have been in Super Rugby. Obviously overseas contracts can take their toll on the Samoan but once they deal with getting the balance between making a living and their international commitments right they will be even stronger."

Schmidt was a teacher at NBHS from 1998 to 2000 and coached the first XV in 1999 and 2000. He also coached at Palmerston North Boys' High School and Tauranga Boys' College.

When quizzed about how crucial these roles were in his successes at international level Schmidt replied:

"I was never meant to be a rugby coach. Becoming a coach was the result of a series of events that occurred. I was really just a schoolteacher and coaching is no different from school teaching in terms of preparation, evaluations and relationships. You are helping people grow as players."

He pointed out when Hawke's Bay Rugby Union commercial manager Dan Somerville invited him to speak at Friday night's function, which will attract a crowd of 400-plus, there weren't any options to decline.

"Dan was an excellent player in our NBHS 1st XV. We had a good cohort of players with the likes of Matt Berquist, Glen Horton, Karl Tipene, Warren Smith, Tom Symes and Joe Snee."

Horton and Berquist went on to play for the Maori All Blacks and at Super Rugby level. Berquist also had a stint with Schmidt at Leinster.

"I still keep in touch with a lot of the boys. Warren Smith's parents came and stayed with us last summer and last week I caught up with Ross [former NBHS principal Brown] when he was in Palmy for a wedding."

In 2016 Schmidt attended a 20-year reunion of his 1996 Palmerston North Boys' High School 1st XV. Last week he also watched Tauranga Boys College in action at the national secondary schools volleyball tournament.

It's obvious Schmidt is still the gentleman his former students and teaching colleagues remember him as. While there's no doubt he would be an ideal All Blacks coach it's easy to understand why he isn't chasing the role.