Brian O’Driscoll: Ireland legend backs Joe Schmidt to take over All Blacks coaching reins

·3-min read
 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Ireland legend Brian O’Driscoll has given his backing to former coach Joe Schmidt to take over the coaching reins from Ian Foster as the All Blacks’ new mentor.

Foster is under heavy pressure in New Zealand after the All Blacks suffered a 2-1 series defeat to Ireland recently and they have won just one of their last five Tests.

Schmidt was working on a part-time basis with the Blues during their Super Rugby Pacific campaign and has replaced Grant Fox as an All Blacks selector, with his first role helping to select the squad for the Rugby Championship.

Answered All Blacks SOS

He helped the All Blacks on a temporary basis with their coaching ahead of their first Test against Ireland when Foster and two of his assistants – John Plumtree and Scott McLeod – were forced to isolate after all tested positive for Covid-19.

The All Blacks won that encounter but Schmidt played no further part on the coaching front during the rest of the series.

Ireland won the last two Tests to become the first foreign team in the professional era to beat the three-time world champions on New Zealand soil.

O’Driscoll, who played under Schmidt for Leinster and Ireland, believes his former coach is the right man to fix the All Blacks’ problems ahead of next year’s Rugby World Cup in France which is just over a year away.

“This All Blacks team looks as though it’s struggling, it really does,” O’Driscoll told the Off the Ball podcast.

“Whereas knowing someone like Joe Schmidt or hearing what someone like Scott Robertson is like and that attention to detail, would they not be the perfect fit to come in and do something in a short period of time?

“Particularly Joe, I know him a lot more, he is made for this situation. This circumstance where their passing quality has been really poor, their unforced errors are so un-New Zealand like.

“All of those aspects, sharpen all that up; body contact, accuracy at the ruck, he would get all of that side right and then the knock on effect of them playing their free-flowing game happens organically.

“It’s not really a New Zealand thing to cut people, to go ‘Right, panic stations, get someone else in.’ So I can understand that they’re trying to work with Ian Foster.

Important decision to make

“But who knows? In a year or 15 months time, will it be to their detriment that they haven’t been more brutal with their decision making and bring in someone who would definitely fix things in a very short space of time?”

New Zealand Rugby are set to name the All Blacks squad on Friday for their Rugby Championship Tests against the Springboks in Mbombela and Johannesburg on August 6 and 13 respectively.

READ MORE: All Blacks: Legends call for Joe Schmidt influence on All Blacks coaching team

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