Andrew Gourdie: The biggest winner of all to emerge from the All Blacks' win over Ireland

OPINION: In the build-up to the All Blacks' quarter-final, Ian Foster was asked about why Ireland defence coach Andy Farrell had managed to mastermind so many memorable victories over New Zealand.

The All Blacks assistant bristled with a terse response: "You'll have to ask Andy."  

Well, Farrell certainly had no answer to what Foster - the man in charge of the All Blacks attack - had prepared for Ireland in Tokyo.

They were irresistible in a first 40 minutes, silencing the thousands of Irish fans, who came to watch history and left with a case of history repeating. 

Coach Steve Hansen made a point of praising Foster's part in the performance and taking the All Blacks attack to a new level. His comments - and the performance itself - may prove to be a seminal moment in the process of appointing the next coach of the All Blacks. 

Foster is now surely the frontrunner for the job.       

If Joe Schmidt was a leading candidate to take over from Hansen after the Rugby World Cup, then that can no longer be the case. 

Andrew Gourdie: The biggest winner of all to emerge from the All Blacks' win over Ireland

Schmidt is an excellent coach, who has delivered stunning results with Ireland during his tenure. After last night's loss, it was tough to watch a man, who so clearly takes enormous pride in his work, use words like "devastating" and "heartbroken" to describe his own state in the wake of defeat.

Wins over the All Blacks in Chicago and Dublin in recent years earned great respect, but last night's quarter-final was a high-stakes game for Schmidt. Victory in Tokyo would have cemented his legacy with Ireland and his future with the All Blacks. 

But his stocks have undeniably fallen in recent months, as the form of his Ireland team fell off a cliff, with a humbling loss to hosts Japan and now another quarter-final exit for Ireland at a Rugby World Cup in a manner that will come as a bitter disappointment. 

One thing led to another, in this case. Defeat to Japan set up a knockout match against arguably the form team in the tournament, against whom even Ireland's best performance may not have been good enough. 

But as fans and critics digest the result in Tokyo, the reality of the situation for Schmidt is that he hasn't been able to complete the job he was tasked with - take Ireland into the semi-finals of the Rugby World Cup. 

Timing is everything and Joe Schmidt has not timed his run well. His team peaked in 2018 and perhaps with it, his chances of being the next coach of the All Blacks.

He spoke with regret last night about an "inevitable" drop in form after reaching previous peaks, but constant improvement is the expectation of anyone who takes charge of the national team.   

Regardless of whether the All Blacks go on to win the World Cup from here, it is difficult to argue Schmidt has a stronger case than Foster or Scott Robertson - or perhaps even Jamie Joseph - to steer the All Blacks beyond 2019.

After a year that has seen Ireland lose to England, Wales, Japan and now New Zealand, Schmidt has no mandate to coach the All Blacks at this moment. 

Right now, that lies with Foster and the coming weeks may ultimately seal it. 

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Andrew Gourdie is a sports presenter for Newshub. 

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