Cape Town - Former
New Zealand coach Graham Henry feels Ireland boss Joe Schmidt can coach
the All Blacks but urged him to be patient for that role.
Schmidt is set to inform the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) soon
of his plans for the future. He has to decide to whether he will accept
the IRFU's two-year contract extension or if he will return to New
Zealand in a bid to coach the All Blacks one day.
The 50-year-old's name has been mentioned to take over the reins at the Chiefs and Highlanders and his current Ireland deal expires at
the end of the 2016/17 season.
Incumbent All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen recently signed a
contract extension with the world champions until after the 2019 Rugby
World Cup in Japan and his replacement must come from within New
Zealand's coaching structures.
Henry, who coached New Zealand to World Cup victory in 2011, hailed Schmidt's coaching ability.
"I rate him exceptionally highly," he told the Irish Independent of Schmidt.
"I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I know the players enjoy playing for him.
"So, he has the base to do it. He has got to make those personal decisions about what he is going to do going forward.
"There is a law in New Zealand that to be an All Black coach you have to be coaching in New Zealand to go the next step.
"Like, Steve (Hansen) is going to coach until the next World Cup. In
recent times they have appointed coaches from within to get that
continuity so Joe might need to be a wee bit patient but he is quality.
"And I think the older you are the better you will be. So there is no rush."
Ireland face New Zealand in November and Henry, who is currently
working as a consultant with Leinster, believes Schmidt can make history
by guiding his side to their first ever win over the world champions.
"I would say it'll be a good contest if they take their opportunities
- I remember 2013 they didn't take their opportunities - but it could
happen," he said.