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IRFU say they're open to Joe Schmidt coaching Lions

By Cian Tracey

The IRFU have confirmed that they would be open to the idea of Joe Schmidt coaching the Lions next year, should the New Zealander be offered the position.

Just last week, Schmidt ruled himself out of the running due to the terms of his Ireland contract which expires in June 2017 but the union's chief executive Philip Browne clarified that they would indeed hold discussions.

"To be honest, the terms of my current contract don't allow me to do the Lions, so it's actually a moot point. It doesn't distract me because it isn't actually something I can unless the terms of my contract change," Schmidt said. Schmidt along with Warren Gatland are the front-runners to lead the tour to their native New Zealand and although Browne confirmed that Schmidt was correct in his assessment of his contract situation, he refused to rule out the possibility.

"If the opportunity arose for Joe (to coach the Lions) of course we'd talk about it," Browne said.

"Technically, Joe is absolutely correct, but that's another day's work. The immediate focus for Joe, for me and for everyone in the IRFU is the next seven weeks."

Browne also admitted that he was disappointed that details of players' contract negotiations were leaked to the Press.

"We try and do our business professionally. There are a lot of parties. It's inevitable in trying to bring the whole contractual process to a conclusion," he said.

"It's disappointing but at the end of the day it's a fact of life. People have an overwhelming interest in what's going on and they want to talk about it.

"We know what we can afford and it doesn't matter what's being written in the paper and what's been whispered about who's going where.

"We can only afford what we can afford.

"There's a growing realisation that everyone understands that there are limitations to what we can do.

"We will always put our best foot forward and try and get the contracting process over and done with as quickly as possible but we are only one party in it," Browne added.

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