Ireland's Grand Slam-winning backs coach Alan Gaffney is on the verge of committing himself to Ireland's World Cup 2011 challenge with a contract due to be signed within days.
The highly-coveted Australian, who also helped to guide Leinster to the Heineken Cup last season, will step down from his role with the province at the end of the season in order to concentrate on Ireland duties.
Last month, Gaffney reported that talks were "positive at the moment" and last night an IRFU spokesperson said a deal to retain the much sought-after coach was nearing completion.
"The IRFU and Alan have been in discussions for a few weeks and are close to finalising a deal," said an IRFU spokesperson.
Gaffney will be a key component as Ireland seek to continue the development of a more expansive game, as hinted during the recent November internationals.
Brian O'Driscoll admits last year's Grand Slam heroics have left Ireland determined to retain their place at the summit of European rugby.
O'Driscoll, competing in his eighth Six Nations tournament as captain, hopes last season's title has ushered in a period of domination that he intends to enjoy.
"The fact we won hasn't changed the dynamic. Hopefully it's going to be our time again," he said. "You get selfish after obtaining a goal. You get a taste for it.
"It doesn't mean your ambition is less, in fact it probably heightens it. I enjoyed all the trappings that came with the Grand Slam -- winning itself, the celebrations and the general feeling in the country. It was great and if we can do that again, why not? It's better than not doing it."