Joe Schmidt appointed new head coach of Ireland

Schmidt succeeds Declan Kidney who was removed earlier this month

Ireland have appointed Joe Schmidt as their new head coach, the Irish Rugby Football Union have announced.

Schmidt succeeds Declan Kidney who was removed on April 2 after presiding over a dismal fifth-place finish in the RBS 6 Nations.

The New Zealander steps up from his position as Leinster head coach after beating competition from Les Kiss and Ewen McKenzie for the Ireland post.

The IRFU is to hold a press conference in Dublin this afternoon, where chief executive Philip Browne will discuss Schmidt's appointment.

Schmidt is thought to have been offered a three-year contract that runs until 2016 - a tenure that will include the 2015 World Cup hosted by England.

Only last year he had signed a new deal at Leinster securing his services until 2014, but the IRFU has decided to promote him to the top job in Irish rugby.

A highly impressive CV compiled over three years at the reigning European champions is topped by successive Heineken Cup crowns.

This season they are on target for a RaboDirect PRO12 and Amlin Challenge Cup double.

Kiss, Ireland's attack coach under Kidney, will lead the summer tour to the United States and Canada, so the autumn internationals against Samoa, Australia and New Zealand will be Schmidt's first matches in charge.

Kiss' ongoing involvement in the Ireland set-up is now in doubt, despite his presence on the tour to North America, while forwards coach Gert Smal and defensive mastermind Anthony Foley are unlikely to be retained.

Since Kidney was informed that the IRFU would not renew his contract, which was due to expire next month, ending his four and half year stewardship, Schmidt emerged as the front runner.

Jake White, Conor O'Shea and Mark McCall ruled themselves out of the running to replace Kidney, who steered Ireland to the 2009 Grand Slam but saw the team's fortunes subsequently nosedive.

One of the key areas for Schmidt to address will be the national side's chronic inconsistency that has seen their form fluctuate wildly.

He will continue the injury-enforced rebuilding program begun by Kidney last autumn, while convincing Brian O'Driscoll to play for another season may also be on the agenda.

PA

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