Along with Warren Gatland and Vern Cotter, Joe Schmidt is one of the favourites to be named British & Irish Lions coach ahead of next summer's tour to New Zealand. An official announcement will be made in September, with Cotter and Schmidt understood to both be interviewing for the role before the end of this month, but all indications suggest that one of the all-Kiwi trio of Schmidt, Cotter and Gatland will get the nod to lead the Lions against the All Blacks.
Assuming it is Schmidt who gets the role, what does that mean for this Ireland future?
The New Zealander's contract expires next summer - exactly when he would be, hypothetically at least, spearheading the Lions assault on his native lands. The IRFU are understandably keen to tie Schmidt down to a deal to bring him up to the 2019 World Cup but, with firm interest from Super Rugby in his services already registered, his time in Ireland might well be borrowed.
Speaking to The Rugby Paper John Spencer, manager of the British & Irish Lions, shed some light on their selection process.
We are talking about interviews any time now and we want to be totally inclusive. After the various interviews, we will make a final decision with announcements in September.
Eddie Jones, whose England side have won nine games on the spin since he took charge after their disastrous hosting of the World Cup last year, is the form coach in the Northern Hemisphere but neither he nor the RFU want any distractions ahead of their preparations for the next World Cup so, with him ruled out, it looks to be a straight choice between Gatland once again, or Schmidt - with Cotter being a final choice, or maybe even part of a coaching ticket with whomever gets the top job.
As for Jones, Spencer did say that they had enquired as to his interest in the job.
I have discussed it with England and I am sure if there was any chance (of Jones taking the job), they would tell me immediately and they haven’t done that. You never know with these things but Eddie has made it clear he wants to take England to Argentina at the end of next season. We have accepted that. It is not an issue.
The IRFU have suggested that they wouldn't stand in the way of Joe Schmidt leading the Lions but on the provision that he sign a new contract to extend his stay with Irish Rugby up to the next world cup in 2019.
With the links to a return home growing stronger by the month, questions would have to be asked if this is a commitment that Schmidt is willing to make.
Highlanders have been openly courting Schmidt as a future coach and it's likely that he would be in contention for the All Blacks job - the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere - after a couple of successful seasons there. And what better way to make your return home to New Zealand than by leading the tourists as his parting gift to Northern Hemisphere rugby?
If Schmidt does take the job, Ireland will have to find a caretaker coach to lead Ireland in next season's Six Nations with the Lions boss traditionally taking a hiatus from national team duties in the new year and this might be a test drive for candidates to put their hand up for the full-time job when it becomes available. As of now, it looks like Andy Farrell is best placed for consideration but it would be foolish to rule out Les Kiss and maybe even Pat Lam at this stage now that Conor O'Shea is unavailable.
That leaves us with the very real possible scenario of Joe Schmidt taking the Lions job and announcing a return to New Zealand after the tour, which would mean Ireland would have just four games remaining under his watch.
Upcoming Ireland Rugby Fixtures - 2016
Saturday 5th November - Ireland v New Zealand at Solider Field, Chicago
Saturday 12th November - Ireland vs Canada at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Saturday 19th November - Ireland vs New Zealand at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
Saturday 26th November - Ireland vs Australia at Aviva Stadium, Dublin
While everyone connected with Irish rugby would clearly want Schmidt, one of the finest rugby coaches we've ever had on this island, to stay it is perhaps unrealistic to think that he doesn't want to test himself in his homeland once more. If anyone can make the All Blacks even better, it is Joe Schdmit.
And that is a scary thought.