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Richie McCaw believes Joe Schmidt has what it takes to one day coach the All Blacks.
Following successful stints with Clermont Auvergne and Leinster, Schmidt has established himself at international level with back-to-back Six Nations titles with Ireland, while he came within seconds of securing a first Irish win over New Zealand in 2013.
His contract as Ireland head coach runs until the summer of 2017 and he is due to inform the IRFU of his future plans after the three-Test tour of South Africa in June.
McCaw represented his country on 148 occasions and after working under the likes of Wayne Smith, John Mitchell, Graham Henry and Steve Hansen, the two-time World Cup-winning captain knows what sort of coach is needed and he believes Schmidt has the credentials to take the hot seat in the future.
“We all watch with a bit of interest all the teams that have the Kiwis involved. Certainly Joe, with his record and the teams he’s been involved with, has been pretty successful and I know the guys who have experienced his coaching before he came over here always talked pretty highly of him," McCaw is quoted as saying in the Irish Independent.
"We nearly suffered from that in 2013 so it doesn’t go unnoticed, absolutely, and down the track a guy like that could come back and coach in New Zealand, maybe the All Blacks one day. He’s the type of guy who’d be great. The experience he has is pretty awesome really."
McCaw called time on his illustrious career after last year's World Cup success but he is not the only big name to depart the All Blacks - Dan Carter, Ma’a Nonu and Conrad Smith are all playing in France, while Kevin Mealamu and Tony Woodcock have ended their Test careers - but he has dismissed the notion that they will be lacking experience.
"There’s a bit of talk about guys that have left the All Blacks especially at home, but you look at the guys that are still there: Think of Kieran Read who’s played 80-something tests, Owen Franks 80-something caps," McCaw explained.
"Sam Whitelock has 70-odd. There’s still some experience there and, yes, there’ll be some change and stuff. I’d hope, and I don’t think, too many things will change, but these first three Tests against Wales will be quite interesting."