Brian O'Driscoll has refused to put a date on his rugby retirement -- which could leave the door open for an incredible fifth World Cup appearance for the recuperating centre.
O'Driscoll, who is missing his first Six Nations campaign since his championship debut in 2000, is recovering from an operation on a trapped nerve and issued a positive bulletin on his progress.
"I'm pretty confident," said Ireland's record caps holder. "I feel good, I feel motivated and I feel very rested. I definitely needed a period of time out, irrespective of the operation.
"I played a lot of consecutive Tests -- the last Test I missed before the summer was Eddie O'Sullivan's last game. That's about 28 straight Tests. The body was very tired."
However, O'Driscoll revealed that he began rehabilitating after his November surgery a week early as he eyes a playing return by the end of this season, when he hopes Leinster will still be involved in the Heineken Cup and Pro12.
"I'm not putting a final date on when I'm finishing," he said. "The body will give up before the mind will. It creates a headline -- but I wouldn't put any limitations on what I want to achieve.
"I definitely see myself playing this year, then definitely next year.
"Then you have to listen to how your body is feeling. If you're in decline, I'd like to go out on a high. But if you still have a lot to offer? I'd like to think I'll be around for a little time yet."
O'Driscoll has refused to put pressure on Ireland to win a Grand Slam -- although he said that Paul O'Connell's men will be thinking about winning the championship.
"Irish people don't do middle ground," he told Today FM's 'Last Word'. "We're rock bottom or world beaters. Three seasons ago we won a Grand Slam so why should we wait another 60 years?"