Heaslip has eye on Six Nations as he nears end of injury misery
Jamie Heaslip hasn't ruled out the possibility of a return from injury in time for the Six Nations but he remains reluctant to put an exact time-frame on his comeback.
The Ireland No.8 hasn't played since March after he suffered a back problem that required surgery and has since kept him out of action.
Doubts over his long-term future have hung over Heaslip, but he dismissed any suggestion that he would have to retire as the 2019 World Cup is still his ultimate goal.
"Early in the year would be nice," Heaslip said of a return. "Not that I don't get a say in that (Six Nations), but I don't pick the squad. You'd have to go ask Joe (Schmidt) about that one. I've been talking to Joe and we have ideas and plans in our head and we'll see how the cards fall."
Heaslip's Leinster coach Leo Cullen said back in September that he may require a second operation on his back but, as is the 33-year-old's prerogative, he wasn't willing to discuss any specifics.
"I have been very clear regarding my medical information, it's private," he insisted.
"I'll get back on the field when I get back on the field."
With regard to the possibility of playing at a final World Cup in Japan, Heaslip added: "Obviously. Why would I be contracted until 2019 and not want to go to the World Cup in 2019?"