Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt rebuffed an approach from New Zealand Rugby to join the All Blacks coaching team late last year.

NZ Rugby boss Steve Tew confirmed to the Herald that Schmidt turned down an offer to return home and replace Wayne Smith in the All Blacks, choosing instead to re-sign for two years with Ireland through to the World Cup.

It is understood that the role was for Schmidt to work alongside Ian Foster, with the view that one would likely be promoted to head coach whenever Hansen moved on.

The 2018 World Rugby Coach of the Year was widely tipped as the favourite to take over Hansen's job until a shock announcement last month, where he revealed – shortly after leading Ireland to a 16-9 victory over the All Blacks in Dublin – that he will "finish coaching" following the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.


The 53-year-old Schmidt said that he wanted to "prioritise family commitments after the Rugby World Cup in 2019".

"Thank you to the IRFU for their support and patience and thanks also to so many people who have adopted my family and me, making us feel part of the community here in Ireland," Schmidt said.

"There are some inspiring challenges over the next 11 months so there's plenty of motivation for me to continue working hard, alongside the other management staff, so that the team can be as competitive as possible."

Schmidt's son, Luke, has battled a brain tumour since age four and suffers from epilepsy. Luke needed a nine-hour operation at the age of six to remove the tumour.

The value Schmidt placed in being close to world-class London-based neurological care is a major reason he turned down multiple approaches from NZ Rugby to return home.

Schmidt has overseen the most successful period in Ireland's history, winning three Six Nations titles (2014, 2015) including a Grand Slam (2018), a first win on South African soil (2016), a first win over New Zealand (2016) and a series win in Australia (2018).

Andy Farrell will become Ireland head coach after the Rugby World Cup, while Hansen is expected to make a decision about his future within the next 48 hours.