All Blacks great Richie McCaw has delivered a ringing endorsement of Ireland coach Joe Schmidt and backed his fellow Kiwi for a future role with New Zealand.
Schmidt, 50, has led Ireland to two Six Nations titles since taking over as head coach in 2013 and is contracted to remain in charge through the summer of 2017.
Current All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen led New Zealand to their second consecutive World Cup title in October and will be in charge when the British and Irish Lions visit in 2017.
However, Hansen has stated he is unlikely to stay on after that to lead the quest for an unprecedented third World Cup in 2019.
McCaw, the most capped player of all time and a two-time World Cup-winning captain, believes Schmidt has what it takes to potentially succeed Hansen.
“We all watch with a bit of interest all the teams that have the Kiwis involved,” he said. “Certainly Joe, with his record and the teams he’s been involved with, has been pretty successful.
“The guys who have experienced his coaching before he came here always talked pretty highly of him.
“We nearly suffered from that in 2013 so it doesn’t go unnoticed. Down the track a guy like that could come back and coach in New Zealand, maybe the All Blacks one day.
“He’s the type of guy who’d be great. The experience he’s picked up here would be invaluable.”