Ireland have been without a backs coach since the World Cup, with defence coach Les Kiss deputising, and having guided Leinster to the top of the PRO12 table and into the Heineken Cup semi-finals Schmidt would be a popular if somewhat left-field appointment.
But while O’Brien believes Kiss impressed in the role in guiding Ireland to Six Nations victories over Scotland and Italy and a draw in Paris, the 25-year-old flanker has tipped his Leinster boss to succeed should he team up with Declan Kidney.
“It would come naturally to him – but that’s up to the Ireland management. It isn’t for me to say, but Joe is a world-class coach and he certainly would have input,” O’Brien told the Irish Independent.
“Les is doing a fantastic job – our running and counter-attacking was good this year, we put some nice phases of play together.”
O’Brien has been used sparingly by Schmidt this season and has featured for Leinster just 11 times, such has his international workload been since Ireland’s World Cup preparations began in July.
But after a weekend off – spent surfing in Donegal instead of lining up against Edinburgh – O’Brien believes he has recharged the batteries ahead of Friday’s clash with Ulster.
“The body’s in good shape,” he added. “The conditioning coaches look after us fairly well, they know every little detail about us.
“If you’re not feeling right, they’ll give you a day off here and there, whatever you need to get yourself 100 per cent to play at the weekend. They’re looking after that side of things brilliantly; we’re happy enough that way as a squad.
“I had the weekend off there and I said ‘right, I’ll get away now for the weekend and relax’. That was my thing, I didn’t have to think about rugby.
“When you get an opportunity to switch off it’s good to do so, it freshens up the mind and when you come back in on the Monday, you’re ready to go again.”
© Sportsbeat 2012
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