Hamish McLennan’s departure as Rugby Australia chairman could pave the way for respected international coach Joe Schmidt to take the reins from Eddie Jones and lead the Wallabies through to the next World Cup. Schmidt, 58, is currently off contract with New Zealand Rugby after guiding the All Blacks to the World Cup final last month, and is said to be considering a return to coaching. While former Ireland head coach and current All Blacks assistant Ian Foster and his assistant, Schmidt, were also linked to a role at French Top 14 side Montpellier, Schmidt may be eyeing the Wallabies’ job.
Schmidt has previously coached all around the world and is believed to be open to the possibility of coaching the Wallabies. He was a key figure in the All Blacks’ resurgence in form, joining the New Zealand coaching team and aiding in their turnaround following a poor series against Ireland last year. However, with Foster not reapplying for the All Blacks coaching job, Scott Robertson has been appointed as his successor and Schmidt has been left out of the new team.
Rugby Australia is currently in the process of finding a new head coach after Eddie Jones’ resignation, with the organization set to appoint a new director of high-performance, who will lead the charge to find Jones’ replacement over the next three months. While it is still RA’s preference to have an Australian take over as Wallabies coach, new RA chairman Daniel Herbert has expressed his desire for the best candidate – regardless of nationality. This stance will likely reassure applicants, despite the Wallabies’ recent poor performances and Jones’ abrupt departure.
Several candidates have been mentioned as potential replacements for Jones, including former Brumbies coach Dan McKellar and current Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham. Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is another option, but given the circumstances surrounding his departure and the current tumultuous state of Australian rugby, it is unlikely that RA would seriously consider him to fill the role. RA hopes to have its new Wallabies head coach in place by the time Super Rugby gets underway on February 23.