Rory Best urges head coach Joe Schmidt to lead Ireland through to 2019 World Cup
Captain Rory Best has urged head coach Joe Schmidt to extend his contact and lead Ireland to the Rugby World Cup 2019.
Ulster hooker Best hailed Schmidt as "one of the best coaches I've worked with" as he called on the former Leinster boss to remain with Ireland beyond next summer.
Schmidt has admitted he will decide his long-term future after Ireland's June tour to South Africa, with his current contract expiring in the summer of 2017.
Schmidt will doubtless be tempted to return to his native New Zealand next summer, to start a long quest to coach the All Blacks, but Best admitted Ireland would remain all the richer for him staying put.
"Absolutely I'd urge him to stay on: from a player's point of view this coaching staff is one of the best I've ever worked with, and he's one of the best coaches I've worked with," said Best.
"It would be great to keep it together and keep pushing Ireland forward.
"Okay we're playing for third place tomorrow but to have delivered three championships in two years is not a bad return."
Scrum coach Feek echoed Best's sentiments, admitting the widely-held hope that Schmidt will stay with Ireland beyond 2017.
Scrum specialist Feek worked under Schmidt at Leinster before following the head coach into the Test arena, and now hopes to extend that working relationship still further.
"I hope Joe stays, I've enjoyed working with Joe for the last six seasons, we've got a good relationship," said Feek.
"The players and Joe are among the reasons why I'm here.
"You're always tested, you want to be challenged all the time, you want to grow and you want to see what the next thing will be.
"The next thing will be exciting as well. Andy Farrell coming in as defence coach will be another exciting event for us, there will be a change-up there too.
"Joe's already talked about his reasons behind that decision-making.
"But we all get on really well behind the scenes and I hope he stays on."
Schmidt is experiencing a season without silverware in Ireland for the first time since joining Leinster in 2010.
The 50-year-old racked up two Heineken Cup titles, a Challenge Cup triumph and a Pro12 league win with Leinster - before stepping up to swipe two consecutive Six Nations crowns with Ireland.
Savvy thinker Schmidt has long stood at the forefront of top-level coaching innovation and transferred that progressive approach into Ireland's back-to-back Six Nations victories.
Assistant coach Feek believes the national side could yet benefit in the long-run from the boss' first lean year in Ireland however,
"I think Joe can definitely stay on or ahead of the coaching curve," said Feek.
"There's only so much you can do of course, but there are different ways to do things that will excite the players.
"And what the players feed back to us is important as well.
"There is feedback that we take, Rory Best and Johnny Sexton for example have a lot of experience, and there's always group discussions around that.
"You always want to grow and learn from your different experiences.
"The exciting thing if Joe and all of us stay on together is that there's a new crop of young players coming through that you guys have had a glimpse at.
"There's some really exciting things with that, and we'll definitely take a lot from the experience of this competition, you have to.
"But also you're not going to suddenly go away and change everything, but there will be things even from the World Cup and last Six Nations that we alter, you've always got to keep evolving.
"Watch any successful team from the past, they were always adding in different things.
"So that will be the big challenge going forward, to create that extra excitement around what we do, how we do it and who we are."