Joe Schmidt commits to Ireland for 2019 World Cup mission
Joe Schmidt is believed to have signed a contract extension with the IRFU that will see him remain as Ireland head coach until the 2019 World Cup.
The Kiwi's future had been uncertain, but he is understood to have informed senior members of his squad that he will lead them in Japan in three years' time.
Since June's tour of South Africa, Schmidt has spent much of his time at home in New Zealand pondering his next move, but an announcement is expected soon from the IRFU.
Super Rugby outfits the Chiefs and Highlanders had made it clear that Schmidt was very much on their radar, but he is now poised to remain in Ireland.
Schmidt has guided Ireland to Six Nations titles in two of the last three years since he took over in 2013, and this news would come as a huge boost.
The 50-year-old's current deal runs until next June but an extension has long been on the table.
Ireland's backroom team are already signed up until after the next World Cup and now that Schmidt is about to join them, they can continue their preparations for next month's Autumn Series.
Schmidt was originally expected to inform the IRFU of his decision earlier this summer but that was again deferred by two weeks at the start of the month as family considerations meant that he took plenty of time to reach a conclusion.
His decision not to be considered for the Lions coaching job would now appear to be because he favours having his full focus on Ireland.
Meanwhile, Ireland ace Conor Murray believes Schmidt's men are now better placed to beat the All Blacks.
Two November Tests against the World champions will not only provide Ireland with two chances of finally getting their first ever win over them but it also gives Schmidt's players the chance to impress Warren Gatland ahead of next summer's Lions tour of New Zealand.
Murray was a try scorer in 2013's last-gasp defeat to New Zealand but he believes that Ireland are now in a better place.
"Joe was only starting with us when we nearly beat them," he said. "But now we have three and a bit seasons under our belt with Joe.
"We're definitely a smarter squad. The belief is definitely up. If you look at the squad, there are way more caps there, way more experience than there potentially was back in 2013."