Dublin - Ireland number eight Jamie Heaslip has urged coach Joe Schmidt to extend his contract with the national team until the 2019 Rugby World Cup.
Schmidt is currently weighing up his options since his contract with the IRFU expires in June 2017. He had previously said he would make a decision on his future following the June tour to South Africa, which Ireland lost 2-1.
Almost two months have passed since that series but still there has been no official confirmation of any decision. Schmidt is reportedly considering returning to his native New Zealand if he decides not to extend his contract.
His time with Ireland has boosted his credentials with reports that Super Rugby teams the Highlanders and Chiefs are interested in his services.
Communication between the IRFU and Schmidt over the situation will continue, but there is no rush to finalise his deal.
Heaslip acknowledged that Ireland's players hope Schmidt will still be around in 2019 when the next World Cup is held in Japan.
“From a purely selfish point of view and for the team, I think everyone would love Joe to stay here,” Heaslip said. “But, you know, things happen, things change and we’ll see where the cards fall.
“I would love it if Joe was here all the way through to the next World Cup, I think a lot of players would as well. I think a lot of players benefit under his tutelage in Ireland camp.”