Leinster boss Joe Schmidt confirmed as new head coach of Ireland
Joe Schmidt has been appointed as the new head coach of Ireland, the Irish Rugby Football Union has confirmed.
Last Updated: 29/04/13 5:26pm
The Leinster boss has agreed to succeed Declan Kidney, who was sacked after Ireland won only one game during a bitterly disappointing Six Nations campaign.
Schmidt has guided Leinster to Heineken Cup glory in each of the last two seasons after previously enjoying success in the French Top 14 in a three-year spell as backs coach with Clermont Auvergne.
Leinster failed to defend their Heineken Cup crown this season, but they have reached the final of the Amlin Challenge Cup after edging out defending champions Biarritz at the weekend.
The team are also flying high in the RaboDirect Pro12, and victory over Ospreys on Friday would guarantee them a home draw in the play-off semi-finals.
Schmidt signed a one-year extension to his contract with Leinster last October which committed him to the club until the end of next season.
But he has now agreed to take the helm with the national side on a three-year contract from July, with current defence coach Les Kiss in charge for the tour of the USA and Canada in June.
Schmidt will then take charge ahead of the autumn internationals, when Ireland face Samoa, Australia and New Zealand.
He said: "I'm really motivated by challenge, I think this is a super challenge, albeit, an intimidating one and I guess if you're going to really find out what you think you can bring to a group, what better way that try to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby.
"I've had a good look at a lot of Ireland's players and when we get our collective together, we'll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible."
Ireland's grand-slam winning captain Brian O'Driscoll said last week that he learned more in three years under former school headmaster Schmidt than he did from any other coach in the previous decade.
O'Driscoll will decide in July whether or not to retire and Schmidt has joked that he planted the supporters in the Leinster crowd who started the "one more year" chant on Saturday encouraging the centre to play on beyond this season.
"He'll make his own decision but at the same time it doesn't stop you trying to push him towards one," Schmidt said.
"I'd like to see him continue, I'd love to see him named tomorrow (in the British and Irish Lions squad), I think that would be part of a continuation of a stellar career, hopefully not the end of one."