The New Zealander was seen as one of the favourites for the position
It may still be 18 months away, but Joe Schmidt has seemingly ruled himself out of the running to coach the Lions in his native New Zealand in 2017.
The Irish head coach was speaking today in London at the launch of the Six Nations when he was asked about taking charge of the ten game tour against the World Champions. Schmidt revealed that under the terms of his contract with the IRFU, he cannot lead the Lions in New Zealand.
Joe Schmidt says he doesn't give any thought to possibility of coaching Lions in 2017. Says current IRFU contract doesn't allow him to do it— Neil O'Riordan (@noriordan) January 27, 2016
Interesting Schmidt says his contract doesn't allow him to take Lions job. He said it's "a moot point". Gatland for the Lions again then?— Dafydd Pritchard (@DafPritchard) January 27, 2016
Wales coach Warren Gatland took charge of the side in 2013 and as part of the deal he was released by the Welsh Rugby Union for the 2012 Autumn Internationals and Six Nations. If Schmidt were to be considered for the position, it would be expected he would step back from Ireland duties for a similar period at the end of this year.
With Schmidt's admission that he is almost certainly out of the running for the prestigious position, Gatland looks even more likely to lead the side to New Zealand after he successfully led the team to a Test Series win in 2013.