The clock has been ticking on Joe Schmidt's reign as Ireland manager since last summer's tour of South Africa, as New Zealand clubs began to openly woo him and many began to place him front and centre in the All Blacks succession plan for Steve Hansen. News from the Sunday papers in New Zealand seems to suggest that we are veering ever closer towards confirmation that the Schmidt era is nearly over.
Glasgow's surprise hire of Chiefs coach Dave Rennie now seems likely to have a direct effect on Irish rugby. This morning's Sunday Star Times has reported that Schmidt is now in pole position to take Rennie's place next season.
Chiefs chief exec Andrew Flexman was on record courting Schmidt in July, after Joe was linked with the Highlanders job.
With the Chiefs now in need of a new coach, journalist Liam Napier today informs us that Flexman has told him that the Chiefs are 'well advanced' in their search to replace Rennie (although accomplished Kiwi coach Vern Cotter is also eyeing up a move back to the Southern Hemisphere). The intelligence from the New Zealand rugby seems to suggest Schmidt is very likely to fill Rennie's shoes at the Chiefs.