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Ireland v Scotland Six Nations: Joe Schmidt to decide his future after the summer

By Ruaidhri O'Connor

Joe Schmidt has revealed that he will make a decision on his long-term future after the summer tour to South Africa.

The Ireland head coach, who has been boosted by the news that skipper Rory Best is fit for his side's closing Six Nations match against Scotland tomorrow, is contracted until June 30, 2017 after signing a one-year extension last July.

He must decide whether he intends to lead his adopted country to the 2019 World Cup or move on to a different challenge.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is set to leave his role after the Lions series that summer and, while Schmidt might not be an automatic choice, it could be the ideal time to return home and get on the coaching ladder.

Alternatively, he could be part of the Lions set-up for the tour of his homeland in 2017.

The IRFU would almost certainly retain the New Zealander if he wanted to stay after enjoying two Six Nations titles under his watch, and despite last year's World Cup disappointment.

While this year's Six Nations defence has not gone to plan, Schmidt has blooded five new caps who look set for big things.

Schmidt said: "I've committed to making a decision once we get back from South Africa. It's important that there is a pathway for players to know that there's continuity, or if that continuity is going to be with someone else.

"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."

While prop Jack McGrath wants Schmidt to stay, he said it wouldn't be the end of the world if there was a change. He said: "It would be tough to see him go but you can't have the same coach forever and it can be good to freshen things up."

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