Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt has revealed he will make a decision on his future with the national team after this summer's tour of South Africa.
The New Zealander's contract runs out with the IRFU at the end of the 2017 season, and the position is Schmidt's to keep should he want it. He became Ireland's head coach in the summer of 2013.
Ireland play three test matches in the summer against South Africa in Cape Town, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth. Their Six Nations campaign concludes on Saturday afternoon against Scotland in Dublin.
Schmidt has aspirations to return home to his native New Zealand and may see an opening in the national team as Steve Hansen is expected to step down as New Zealand head coach after the 2017 Lions tour that summer. Schmidt has not coached at home since 2007, when he was assistant coach of the Blues. The Auckland-based team reached the semi-finals of the Super 14 that season.
Speaking to the Irish Independent, Schmidt revealed that he will make his decision in the coming months. "It is something that I've committed to making a decision once we get back from Africa, really. It’s really important that there is a clear pathway for players to know that there’s some continuity there, or if that continuity is going to be with someone else that there’s a span of enough time that they can get the game up and running as they see it best being played."
"I am conscious of my responsibility there, there’s some factors outside of rugby that tend to dictate for me (and) we’ll be a little bit further down the track with some of those decisions as well."