LEINSTER scrum coach Greg Feek has extended his contract for one season.
This brings New Zealander Feek into line with the other assistant coaches Jono Gibbes, forwards, and Richie Murphy, skills and kicking, as three men who have been tied to Leinster until the conclusion of season 2013/2014.
Feek combined the scrum responsibilities at Leinster this season with those as a consultant to Ireland, and the benefits accrued with Ireland establishing a solid base there.
This opens up the argument that Joe Schmidt could use Feek and Murphy for Ireland in a part-time capacity for the very specialist areas of the scrum and kicking.
No one could argue, especially not Schmidt, that Feek made a considerable difference to Ireland's scrum, along with scrum leader Mike Ross, and that Murphy has had a stunning impact on Jonathan Sexton's and, more recently, Ian Madigan's kicking statistics.
"The fact that we play during the autumn internationals and the Six Nations make that very difficult. At this point, they are all contracted to Leinster only and we expect that to stay the situation," said team manager Guy Easterby.
Leinster will finish this season as the number one-ranked club in Europe no matter what happens in the Amlin Challenge Cup final or, indeed, the Heineken Cup final.
At the moment, Leinster have gained 34 points from their consistency over the last four seasons with Toulouse second (26), Clermont Auvergne third (25), Toulon fourth (24), Biarritz Olympique fifth (24), and Munster sixth (22).
The fact that Biarritz will not qualify for the Heineken Cup next season brings Ulster into the count as the sixth club for next season's competition, meaning the three Irish provinces will hold tier-one status for the 2013/2014 draw.
"We are the number-one-ranked team in Europe at the moment. We are desperate to continue to move forward," he said.
Easterby was tasked with the responsibility to draw up the list of potential candidates to take over from Schmidt in the summer of 2014.
That process has been accelerated by Schmidt's move to Ireland.
The feelers were put out and the reaction to the opening moves was gratifying for Leinster.
"It is a credit to the place, to the squad and to the organisation, even the building here, that it is an attractive job for coaches," said Easterby.
"I think that the coaches we've spoken to are pleased that they have been approached about the job.
"It is just about us making the right decision in terms of who we go for."
Easterby was unable to confirm the capture of Leicester Tiger coach Matt O'Connor as Leinster's successor to Schmidt.
"He is not the only coach we have spoken to.
"We were looking for people that tick certain boxes – attention to detail, innovation, energy, someone who challenges the players."
Easterby confirmed that some of the senior Leinster players met with O'Connor last week "as part of our protocol" to maximise the consultation process.
"Matt definitely ticks those boxes as do the other people we have spoken to," he said. "We certainly haven't completed any deals with him.
"I have learned over the years you need to make sure you've dotted the i's and crossed the t's before anything is announced.
"Hopefully, that will be done in the next few days and then we will have an announcement to make."