Joe Schmidt has pulled out of the running to be the next All Blacks head coach.
In a statement released on Saturday, the All Blacks assistant coach and Blues consultant confirmed he would not be applying for any coaching roles that extend beyond the Rugby World Cup.
“I have really enjoyed being back on the grass coaching with the Blues and the All Blacks,” Schmidt said.
“I very much appreciate those opportunities, but presented with a condensed time frame this year, I won’t be applying for any coaching roles that extend beyond the Rugby World Cup. In the shorter term, I will work hard to support the All Blacks in 2023.”
Last week it was reported Schmidt was considering a move for the top job, following Foster’s announcement that he, too, would not seek reappointment.
Last month, New Zealand Rugby said their process for filling the role beyond the 2023 season would see a candidate selected before this year’s World Cup - with an appointment expected in the next few weeks.
“I felt the best thing for our team and for our entire management group was to have this process done after the Rugby World Cup. That hasn’t happened but we will accept the decision and move on,” Foster said at the time.
“My sole focus remains unchanged. It is to lead this All Blacks team and management group in our planning and preparation so that we go to France with the goal of winning the Rugby World Cup and making this country proud.
“I won’t be reapplying for the job of head coach.”
Foster was earlier critical of the process, telling the Herald the decision should be put off until after the World Cup has finished in October.
“Those conversations are best had after a World Cup when everyone is clear and we have the latest data and we know where the team is at, and then the board and everyone can make the decision with all the data on the table.
“In the meantime, we have got a management team and a coaching group that is fully committed to one goal, which is the World Cup and not trying to position themselves into where they fit in next year’s regime.”
Scott Robertson and Jamie Joseph are believed to be the frontrunners to replace Foster but Schmidt’s name had also been mentioned, following a successful stint in European rugby.
As head coach, Schmidt won a Pro 12 title and two Heineken Cups in three seasons with Irish club giants Leinster. He also claimed three Six Nations championships as head coach of the Irish national side, took them to No 1 in the world in 2018, and engineered two test wins against the All Blacks.