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Graham Henry believes Joe Schmidt has what it takes to coach the All Blacks but feels he should not rush home to New Zealand.
Schmidt is contracted to the IRFU until the end of June 2017 but he has the option of extending his deal until after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and a decision on his future is expected imminently.
Super Rugby outfits the Highlanders and Chiefs have already expressed an interest in speaking to the Ireland head coach about a return to New Zealand and he will have to be within the coaching structures in his home country before he can be considered for the All Blacks role.
Schmidt's decision will be heavily influenced by the health of his young son Luke who has epilepsy and Henry believes he must be patient if he wants to coach the All Blacks in the future.
"I rate him exceptionally highly. I think he is one of the best coaches in the world and I know the players enjoy playing for him," Henry is quoted as saying in the Irish Independent.
"So, he has the base to do it. He has got to make those personal decisions about what he is going to do going forward.
"There is a law in New Zealand that to be an All Black coach you have to be coaching in New Zealand to go the next step.
"Steve (Hansen) is going to coach until the next World Cup. In recent times they have appointed coaches from within to get that continuity so Joe might need to be a wee bit patient but he is quality. And I think the older you are the better you will be. So there is no rush."
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