Schmidt heading for France


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Blues Assistant Coach Joe Schmidt is heading for France later this year to take up a coaching role at French club Clermont-Auvergne.

Schmidt has resigned from the Blues after three seasons and admits making the break was a tough decision.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed my time with the Blues and have been privileged to work with such an excellent team of people, particularly the other coaches, David Nucifora and Liam Barry; the strength and conditioning staff lead by Mark Harvey, the dedicated medical team and of course, a quality group of players.

“To make the play-offs this season was a great step forward and I am hugely proud that many of our players have gained national selection this year.”

Blues Head coach David Nucifora says the Blues will sorely miss Schmidt, but admits the reasons for his departure are understandable.

“This is a chance for Joe to work alongside his old mate Vern Cotter from Bay of Plenty again and his children are young and at a good age for the family to take up this overseas experience for a couple of years. Joe has found this decision tough but we wish him all the best.”

Schmidt has been an integral part in the development of many Blues backs ‘ players such as Isaia Toeava, Luke McAlister, Rudi Wulf and Anthony Tuitavake ‘ some of whom Schmidt first coached at National Secondary School level.

Blues CEO Andy Dalton says Schmidt’s contribution to the Blues has been significant ‘ both as a coach and member of the Blues and wider rugby community.

“Joe is extremely popular and well respected amongst both players and the wider management team. His contribution on and off the field has been outstanding. We wish him and his family well when they head for France, but he will be missed.

NZRU Deputy Chief Executive Steve Tew said Schmidt had made a great contribution in his time with the Blues.

“We wish him well and hope to see him back in New Zealand rugby sometime in the future.”

Meanwhile, David Nucifora is in discussions with the NZRU about his future and any outcome will be advised in due course.

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