Rugby: All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan expresses disappointment over Kiwi Joe Schmidt coaching Wallabies

All Blacks great Sir John Kirwan has expressed his concerns over Kiwi Joe Schmidt's appointment as Wallabies head coach.  

Schmidt, 58, has inked a two-year deal with Rugby Australia, taking him through until the end of the 2025 British and Irish Lions tour.  

While Schmidt's CV speaks for itself - boasting experience with both Ireland and the All Blacks at the highest level - taking charge of the Wallabies right now is a huge job.  

After a year of turmoil in 2023, including failing to reach the Rugby World Cup knockouts for the first time, the Wallabies are ranked at a historic low ninth in the world.

Joe Schmidt.
Joe Schmidt. Photo credit: Getty Images

Schmidt's signature was secured through his relationship with Peter Horne, Rugby Australia's new director of high performance, and David Nucifora in an advisory role.  

Horne and Schmidt worked together at World Rugby, while Nucifora and Schmidt combined in Ireland.   

However, after being part of the All Blacks side that reached last year's World Cup final as an assistant to Ian Foster, Schmidt boasts recent experience in helping turn a side around in a short space of time.  

In tandem with forwards coach Jason Ryan, Schmidt's presence in the All Blacks' set-up was vital in restoring the side's fortunes after the low of a series loss to Ireland in 2022.  

And speaking on Sky Sport's The Breakdown, Sir John raised his concerns over Schmidt applying his knowledge of the New Zealand game into an Australian environment.  

"I was a little bit disappointed," said Sir John. "I think he'll be great, and we want Australia to be strong.  

"But if you come this way, coach other nations and then you come back and coach the All Blacks. But after that, I think it's too close.  

"But as an ex-All Black I get uncomfortable with that, too much IP [going to Australia], but good luck to him.   

"I hope he makes Australia strong, because I really want them to be strong.

Ian Foster and Joe Schmidt.
Ian Foster and Joe Schmidt. Photo credit: Getty Images

"He'll be a great coach, but as an ex-All Black, it makes me feel a little bit uncomfortable. Nothing personal."  

Sir John isn't alone in his criticism of Schmidt's appointment either.  

In late 2023, before Schmidt's appointment, Australian-born Ireland winger Mack Hansen hit out at the idea of a Kiwi coaching the Wallabies again.  

Meanwhile, commentator Greg Martin did the same after Schmidt's confirmation, taking aim at the records of compatriots Robbie Deans and Dave Rennie while in charge of Australia.  

However, fellow All Blacks great Jeff Wilson has no issue with a Kiwi coaching a direct rival.  

"Am I suprised that it's happened now? A little bit," said Wilson.  

"There's no doubt he's taking some IP away, but you could say he was doing that from Ireland.

"He's just a coach, and he wants to coach. Australia is a tough proposition right now, though.  

"That's not an easy place to go and coach. They've got some work to do."  

Schmidt himself has expressed his desire to see the Wallabies return to their former glory as a key reason for him taking the job, but has ruled out coaching the side beyond 2025.