Johnny Sexton hopes Joe Schmidt remains Ireland coach beyond 2019
Last Updated: 26/10/18 1:26pm
Johnny Sexton hopes Joe Schmidt will continue as Ireland coach beyond next year's World Cup but believes they can cope without him.
Schmidt's contract expires at the end of 2019 and will make a decision on his future at the end of next month's autumn Tests.
The 53-year-old has been linked with a return to his native New Zealand, with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen stepping down after the World Cup.
"I think he is going to make the decision that is best for him at this stage and what he feels is right," said Sexton, who began working with Schmidt at Leinster in 2010.
"Whether he feels he can stay on with this group or that he needs to go onto the next challenge. But whatever he does decide, I think as players, we hope that he stays.
"He has done an incredible job. I have worked with him since 2010 and the success that he has brought to us with Leinster to get to the six finals in three years and then to go and win three [Six Nations] championships, and we have still got more to go, it has been a special time and a lot of that has been down to him."
Ireland play four Tests next month, including a mouth-watering clash with New Zealand in Dublin on November 17.
Ireland defeated the All Blacks for the first time in Chicago in 2016 but are still waiting for their first victory on home soil.
"We've never beaten them in Ireland so it would be pretty special to be on the first Irish team to beat them here," said Sexton.
"As players we need to concentrate on the first couple of games but at the same time it's going to be a pretty special occasion."