Leinster's Joe Schmidt is appointed new Ireland coach

New Ireland rugby boss Schmidt looking forward to challenge

Leinster's Joe Schmidt is to take over as head coach of Ireland until 2016, the Irish RFU announced on Monday.

The New Zealander has been the favourite to succeed Declan Kidney whose five-year tenure ended after a disappointing Six Nations campaign.

Schmidt was backs coach at Clermont Auvergne before guiding Leinster to Heineken Cup triumphs in 2011 and 2012.

The 48-year-old said he welcomed the "super but intimidating" prospect of leading Ireland.

He added: "When I came to Leinster in 2010 I didn't really want to be a head coach, but I've really enjoyed the experience since.

"I'm really motivated by challenge - if you're going to find out what you can bring to a group, what better way than to take on one of the big jobs in world rugby.

Six Nations 2013 Highlights - Ireland v France

"I've had a good look at a lot of Ireland's players and when we get our collective together, we'll try to improve performance and make us as competitive as possible."

Schmidt has revealed that he will attempt to convince Brian O'Driscoll to play on for another season.

Speaking at his unveiling at a press conference at Aviva Stadium, Schmidt stated that he wants O'Driscoll to play on in the green of Ireland, but that the decision ultimately lies with the former Ireland captain.

"He's put some pressure on me, so I'd certainly like to put some pressure on him. The one thing with Brian is he's very much his own man, he'll make his own decision.

"But at the same time it doesn't stop you trying to push him toward one, and so I'd like to see him continue."

Schmidt's three-year deal with the Irish RFU runs until the end of the 2015-16 season.

Leinster are just one game away from clinching a third European title in three seasons following Saturday's Amlin Challenge Cup semi-final win over holders Biarritz.

They have also qualified for the Pro12 play-offs and can make sure of a home semi-final by beating the Ospreys at the RDS Arena on Friday night.

Last October, Schmidt signed a one-year contract extension at Leinster, taking him to the end of the 2013/14 season.

But he will now be leaving the province to take on what he says is one of the biggest jobs in world rugby.

Current Ireland defence coach Les Kiss, a former North Sydney Bears winger, is to take charge of the Irish team for the summer tour matches against the United States and Canada.

Ireland then host Samoa, Australia and New Zealand in the 2013 autumn internationals.

Former headmaster Schmidt was in charge of the New Zealand Schools side before coaching Bay of Plenty in 2003, guiding them to the Ranfurly Shield.

He was assistant at the Auckland Blues before his move to French side Clermont.

While admitting the change from day to day rugby management to clearly defined periods of the calendar will be difficult, he insists it will have its benefits.

"The windows are suffocating, but there is also more scope to get back and forth to New Zealand," said Schmidt.

"I have a daughter who is studying there so it would be nice to get backwards and forwards to see family.

"My family were part of the decision, they're very settled here.

"I've spoken out lately about our smaller son and he's looked after superbly at his school. That was a big part of our decision making."

Leinster, meanwhile, appear to be already lining up a successor to Schmidt, with Leicester coach Matt O'Connor emerging as the favourite.

O'Connor was backs coach with Canberra club the Brumbies for four years before taking over at Leicester.