Joe Schmidt will not be putting his name in the ring as the next All Blacks head coach.
In a shock announcement, Schmidt has revealed that he will "finish coaching" following the Rugby World Cup in Japan next year.
While many expected him to step down as Ireland head coach, his decision to apparently step away from coaching altogether was a major surprise, with many having pegged Schmidt as the next All Blacks coach.
The Kiwi-born coach had just last week led Ireland to a 16-9 victory over the All Blacks, and if All Blacks coach Steve Hansen was to step away after the World Cup, Schmidt was widely tipped as the favourite to take over.
However, Schmidt says he has "decided to finish coaching", and "will prioritise family commitments after the RWC in 2019".
"The management and players have been incredible to work with and the tremendous support we have had, particularly at home in the Aviva, but where ever we have travelled has been uplifting," said Schmidt.
"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.
"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."
Andy Farrell will become Ireland head coach after the Rugby World Cup, while with Hansen set to make a decision by the end of the year, assistant coach Ian Foster would become the favourite to take over as All Blacks head coach if Hansen decides to step aside.
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).
Yesterday, Schmidt was named World Rugby Coach of the Year for 2018 and Ireland were named World Rugby Team of the Year.
Philip Browne, IRFU CEO, commented: "I would like to thank Joe, and his family, on behalf of the IRFU Union Committee, all the staff of Irish Rugby and every rugby supporter, for everything he has done for the game in Ireland.
"Joe has travelled to clubs throughout the country, assisted with our sponsor programme and attended a huge number of charity events, helping to raise vital funding for those who need it most. Sport has the ability to lift people out of the day-to-day concerns of life and Joe, and his team, have provided historic moments of great joy, that will live long in the memories of everyone in the rugby family.
"Of course, this is not yet the end, and we look forward an exciting and challenging 11 months for Irish Rugby during Joe's final Six Nations and the Rugby World Cup in Japan." On a personal level, I would like to thank Joe for his warmth, his time, honesty and his genuine interest in everything that we do in Irish Rugby to grow the game."
Farrell, who joined the Ireland set-up ahead of the 2016 summer tour to South Africa, added: "It is a privilege to be considered for such a prestigious role.
"I have learned a lot from Joe over the past few seasons and I will continue to learn from him over the next year as the coaching group and players focus on competing in two huge tournaments in 2019."
- With Daily Telegraph UK