All Blacks into the future: Quins deal, Joe Schmidt's credentials

WATCH: Jordie Barrett's conversion from an impossible angle (0:10)

The All Blacks' Jordie Barrett showed off his impressive skills to convert a goal kick from a near impossible angle. (0:10)

As far as the All Blacks are concerned, their partnership with English club Harlequins is a positive example of thinking outside the square and looking at different options.

It is probably the first of a series of potential outcomes, and Harlequins are probably the starting point and a logical starting point at that. There are two former All Blacks in management roles at the club, with Nick Evans the assistant coach and Sean Fitzpatrick on the board.

But where they must be careful is ensuring they do not push the other clubs away, because as soon as you align yourself with someone that puts you offside with someone else. And being a Wasps person myself, the thought of going with Harlequins is a case of: 'Oh really?' That will make Wasps much more English and more standoffish towards the Kiwis.

I think New Zealand Rugby will tread carefully. There will never be any exclusivity as far as the clubs are concerned, and where the All Blacks are concerned; but you have got to credit the way they have thought outside the square. It will be interesting to see how it works.

The benefits could be, for example, a player who is coming back from a long-term injury in October in New Zealand could foreseeably get some game time up north. At that time of year there is not much chance of playing mulitple games in New Zealand; if he needs to play a few NZ Rugby could send him up to the northern hemisphere for a short sabbatical.

It might just mean a short-term contract and I think everyone, whether it's northern or southern hemisphere coaches or teams who have had a spate of injuries in certain positions, would welcome that chance.

On the flipside, you need only look at the Chiefs at the moment. They could contact Harlequins to see if they had any spare players who could come down to fill a place and gain some experience in the meantime. It's a reciprocal sort of approach with benefits for both partners.

In a short-term sense, it's great, especially if a player has had a serious injury and needs to test himself away from the microscope in New Zealand.

But whether it will stop the movement of players for longer-term contracts is another matter. A lot of the younger ones say they will head away and then come back; but the danger is when they leave someone else gets their position with one or two players behind them. So by the time the original player comes back he is not in the selectors' minds, unless he has been shoulder-tapped to return.

Players will realise if they control their own futures then they control their price. But if you have NZ Rugby controlling that future you are probably putting a ceiling on your contract, particularly if you are on loan. If you are a free agent like Charles Piutau was, then you can be one of the few people in the world to sign a seven-figure contract.

It will be interesting to see how England's Rugby Football Union look at it. Harlequins is a traditional English club, right beside Twickenham, right under the RFU's nose and they've gone and done a deal with the All Blacks.

If you're Eddie Jones or another coach who is trying to build bridges with the clubs in the UK, how do you feel knowing clubs are signing with the All Blacks? It is an interesting mix and certainly fascinating to watch in how it all pans out.

As for England's Six Nations' campaign, and a few scribes saying the wheels are falling off, it is worth remembering that for all teams there comes a time eventually when you are going to lose. They had a great run of 18 Tests on the trot, equalling the All Blacks' best unbeaten run before that loss to Ireland in last year's Six Nations.

Losing three Tests in a row isn't great but does that mean the wheels have come off? Did they lose that badly?

They've still got the same players. If anything, there may be a bit of staleness inside the camp or maybe they are lacking some balance. If the balance isn't there it can be hard to find the enthusiasm and, just as importantly, the fun.

When a new coach comes along everyone is keen to impress; he's the new boss. You've got to get off to a good start and do everything you can to make him take notice. He then selects you and things may go well for a while, but if you are getting the same rhetoric and the same training sessions, essentially the same old routine, then you can get into a bit of a rut and your enthusiasm suffers.

It's no different to your work environment or anything else in life. You've got to have the balance of turning up for work, having the motivation to be there and to do your job to the best of your ability.

That's probably where England need should start to look and that's an easy fix. Jones can change things; he could change up the personnel in his management team. They certainly need to review the past few months and make the necessary adjustments; if they don't then the results probably won't change.

Meanwhile in Ireland, Joe Schmidt has achieved something truly special in winning only their third Grand Slam.

You would have to think the All Blacks have been looking at him as a possible coach after 2019. Clearly he will be on a shortlist and post-2019 it wouldn't surprise me if he got the job. He would be a good pick.

It reinforces what I've just said about England. The Irish look like they're having fun and it looks like their environment is really healthy - Schmidt has them humming. One thing is true, the Irish do know how to have fun and, if anything, he may actually have to keep a lid on it.

Schmidt has really injected some flair into Ireland's style of play and it looks like they're enjoying their rugby. He's no accident. He and Vern Cotter did great things at Clermont, and everywhere Schmidt's been he's pretty much succeeded and he's going to be a pretty successful coach wherever he ends up beyond Ireland. The All Blacks will definitely have him on the radar.

Locally, it was good to see the Hurricanes get back to their best at the weekend against the Highlanders. They looked fantastic. Beauden Barrett is a class act but someone like Ben Lam who has been away in the Sevens wilderness; for him to come back and show just what he could have been or could still be. He's clearly enjoying his rugby and in the form of his life.

With Vince Aso inside him as well, the Hurricanes have a hell of an exciting backline.