Joe Schmidt has, for now, ruled himself out of leading the All Blacks and British and Irish Lions after reiterating his plans to step away from coaching next year.

Schmidt is considered one of world rugby's most astute minds following a year in which Ireland swept all before them in 2017, a run which included their first home win over the All Blacks in Dublin, a Grand Slam and Six Nations title.

While Schmidt has time and may, yet, change his mind, the former Bay of Plenty and Blues assistant seems determined to take a break after leading Ireland to the World Cup in Japan later this year.

"That is certainly the short-term plan, to not be involved in coaching," Schmidt said today at the launch of the Six Nations in London. "Certainly not for 12 months and I'd say quite likely longer than that. We have a couple of family-related projects that we want to work our way through. I don't spend a lot of time at home already so it's probably high time I did."


Schmidt's son, Luke, who suffers from epilepsy and battled a brain tumour when he was young, is thought to be a major factor in his desire to step away from coaching.

Not only does it seem increasingly unlikely Schmidt will contest the All Blacks head coach role set to be vacated by Steve Hansen, he also downplayed the prospect of returning to lead the Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2021.

"I wouldn't be available [for the Lions] if asked at the moment," he said. "I said to my wife that we'd get these 12 months done. She said she thought I'd last 12 days potentially without needing to do something.

"I wouldn't say that I'm looking to do any coaching, so it's not at the front of my mind. One of the things I decided in a conversation with myself is that I want to make sure these next 10 months I can help the players be as good as they can be, and to put as much effort as I can into that. That's where your energies go.

"I have had an incredibly planned life for so many years. You get the daily itinerary from the office, they give me my schedule for the week, where I'm going and who I'm seeing. I'm kind of looking forward to 12 months where I can invest that energy in one direction and also not have a daily itinerary or a weekly plan that says this is how you fill your time, and it is very well filled I have to say."

New Zealand Rugby has long held an interest in luring Schmidt's talents. The Herald previously revealed NZR approached Schmidt to return home and replace Wayne Smith in the All Blacks in 2017 but he opted to re-sign with Ireland for a further two years.

NZR chief executive Steve Tew has been open about the fact he hopes Schmidt does not take a long break following the World Cup, and the national body may attempt to change his mind.

Schmidt's intentions, though, appear to leave All Blacks assistant Ian Foster the firm front-runner to succeed Hansen.