Super Rugby

Former Ireland coach Schmidt returns to Super Rugby's Blues

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Joe Schmidt. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)
Joe Schmidt. (Photo by Brian Lawless/PA Images via Getty Images)

Former Ireland coach Joe Schmidt will join Super Rugby's Blues next year as a part-time assistant to Leon MacDonald, the Auckland-based franchise said on Tuesday.

New Zealander Schmidt said he was looking forward to rejoining the team that gave him his first professional coaching role from 2005 to 2007.

"It seems like a long time ago, I've been working my way around the coaching world really," said the 56-year-old.

Schmidt left Auckland for Leinster, guiding them to win the European Cup twice, before coaching Ireland to three Six Nations championships, including a Grand Slam in 2018.

He was appointed World Rugby's director of rugby and high-performance last year but announced his departure in September, saying he wanted to spend more time with his family at home in New Zealand.

Blues head coach MacDonald, who steered his side to the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman title this year, said Schmidt's appointment formalised a role he had been carrying out during the past season.

"Joe has been mentoring me the last 12 months, which has been incredibly helpful," he said.

"Having him as part of the coaching team will give us a different voice in the mix and he can also look at things through a different lens and really challenge us."

Schmidt is hugely respected in New Zealand rugby circles and was approached about becoming an All Blacks assistant coach in 2017 but opted to remain with Ireland.

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