Joe Schmidt says that he won't be part of Warren Gatland's coaching staff for the Lions Tour in New Zealand next summer.
Irish rugby fans can be quite protective of Joe Schmidt, and understandably so. There is always the fear that he might be tempted to head back to his homeland of New Zealand and the fact that he agreed to stick around until the 2019 World Cup was music to the ears of the oval ball faithful in this neck of the woods.
And it would appear that Schmidt's dedication to Ireland until that time comes is absolute, excluding him even from helping out with the Lions.
Warren Gatland had hinted earlier in the week that he was considering asking Schmidt and Ireland defensive coach Andy Farrell to come into the Lions fold. But Schmidt has ruled himself out of touring New Zealand this summer, outlining that his priorities will remain with Ireland and their tour to the USA and Japan:
A big part of the motivation for me not being involved in the Lions was going to the USA and Japan and working with this next cadre of players.
Schmidt said that it would be "fantastic" if Ireland had a strong number of players selected for the Lions, but said that he wanted to "get to know" the players "that don't go" to New Zealand as part of Gatland's squad.
Schmidt said that he would be "delighted" if Farrell went on the Lions tour, partly because it would mean that he could give "feedback on how our guys are going there...we would have both bases covered".
Schmidt will be trying to get his Ireland side focussed ahead of their sold-out clash with Canada, which kicks off at 7:15pm on Saturday at the Aviva Stadium.