JOE SCHMIDT's first order of business as Ireland's new head coach will be to convince Brian O'Driscoll to delay any retirement plans.
Schmidt is thought to have already spoken to the Ireland and Leinster talisman about his plans following the Lions' summer tour to Australia. O'Driscoll is set to be named in that squad today.
The 34-year-old centre has said previously he will make his decision known at the end of this season but Schmidt's appointment to the national team is likely to prompt him to postpone any retirement plans he might have had.
Schmidt is hoping that his excellent working relationship with O'Driscoll and the chants of 'one more year' during Leinster's Amlin Challenge Cup victory will help to keep him on board.
"It was great to hear those chants reverberate around the RDS," said Schmidt. "Hopefully they will help convince Brian to stay on.
"Brian is very much his own man and he will make his own mind up. But I see no harm in trying to guide him to a decision to where a stellar career can continue for one more season ... at least."
The new Ireland coach will see out this season with Leinster before officially taking up his position and hopes to have his coaching team identified and appointed within the next four to six weeks. It is possible he will retain Les Kiss as defence coach but is likely to be in the market for a top-class forwards' coach.
Money, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne insisted, will not be a stumbling block. "Joe has a blank sheet of paper," said Browne. "The current coaches are contracted until the end of June and then it is for Joe to put his own team together."
Schmidt, who will not have to report to the National Team Review Group on the eve of internationals like his predecessor did, insisted that negotiations with the IRFU went smoothly and his contract with Ireland takes him up until after the 2016 Six Nations.