Joe Schmidt has opened up on his intention to step away from rugby after the World Cup, saying he is an "accidental coach" and claiming his luck must soon run out.

At the Six Nations launch in London today, Schmidt reiterated his plan to take an indefinite break after leading Ireland to the World Cup in Japan.

This time, though, he went further by attempting to rule himself out of not only the All Blacks head coach role, but also the prospect of guiding the British and Irish Lions on their tour of South Africa in 2021.

"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," Schmidt said. "I don't spend a lot of time at home already so it's probably high time I did.


"I wouldn't be available [for the Lions] if asked at the moment."

Asked later by the Herald whether he had any interest in succeeding Steve Hansen, Schmidt said: "Not really." He went on to outline the evolution of his career as a way of explaining why he is seemingly content to pass up the opportunity to join the All Blacks.

"I'm an incredibly accidental coach," Schmidt said, explaining his career began when he started teaching. "I'd been playing a bit of basketball as a point guard – I'm not the biggest man.

"When I first started at Palmerston North Boys' High I got told by Dave Syms, the director, that I needed to be involved in the co-curricular life of the school and I said 'I'd love to coach basketball'.

"He said 'that's brilliant, that's on Friday nights it won't affect your rugby coaching on Saturday mornings'.

"At the time I was playing on the wing for Manawatu and it kind of went from there.

"I played rugby from the time I was four-years-old so it's not I don't love the game but it wasn't an intended career. I have a few priorities that reshaped the thinking a little bit."

In his typically humble manner, Schmidt attempted to brush any personal praise attached to his transformation of Ireland, reigning Six Nations champions and World Cup contenders.


"At the same time, to be honest, you can't keep riding your luck. I've had an unbelievable time in the game whether it be with Bay of Plenty and the Ranfurly Shield or even when we finished up at the Blues with the last semifinal which I thought was a really good step."

After leaving Auckland, Schmidt enjoyed success alongside Vern Cotter at Clermont and then proved his head coaching credentials with Leinster and, of course, Ireland.

"You've got to run out of luck at some stage. I felt we did a bit in 2015 at the World Cup so that's something that's probably a good time to finish on – post that I'll have had two shots at trying to get guys ready for that and then finish up from there."

New Zealand Rugby has long held interest in luring Schmidt home, having approached him to 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.

"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 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."