A New Zealander is being tipped as a favourite to replace Declan Kidney as Ireland's coach.

Kidney was sacked by the Irish Rugby Football Union yesterday following a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

Former Blues assistant Joe Schmidt has coached Irish side Leinster to consecutive Heineken Cup titles and has one more year on his contract at the club. He recently distanced himself from speculation linking him to the Irish top job.

"Whenever we lose I don't get a lot of sleep but I know that Declan will still be in the mix and until that is sorted ... I am not a massive fan of conjecture. I'm here at Leinster next year and that keeps my hands full."


Schmidt ruled himself out of the Blues' top job last year but at the time said he'd be keen to return to New Zealand in the near future with his daughter looking to study back home.

The Irish role would be an appealing prospect for Schmidt however and if he got the job it would mean another New Zealander in a top role in European rugby. Fellow Kiwi Warren Gatland coaches Wales and will lead the British and Irish Lions tour of Australia later this year.

Former All Blacks coach Wayne Smith was set to take up a role with England last year before deciding to work with the Chiefs instead.

Other possible candidates to replace Kidney are Harlequins coach Conor O'Shea, Saracens' Mark McCall, Ireland Under-20s and former Welsh coach Mike Ruddock, and former South African coach Jake White.