Best close to new deal as Schmidt rules Kilcoyne out of France clash
Rory Best says he is close to agreeing a new contract that would see him continuing until after next year's Rugby World Cup.
The Ulster and Ireland captain will be 37 when the tournament kicks off in Japan but feels like he still has something to give to the cause and is ready to continue despite an injury-hit season.
Speaking at the Six Nations launch in London, Best said his recent run of games since returning from a foot infection had convinced him to continue.
His current contract expires at the end of this season.
"I feel pretty good at the minute, getting those three games in-a-row has been important for me, to show myself that I'm still capable and still enjoy playing at that level," he said.
"Look, that has all been good and hopefully we'll get something sorted out in the very near future."
Meanwhile, Joe Schmidt has ruled Dave Kilcoyne out of the Six Nations opener against France while adding that Sean O'Brien and Garry Ringrose could yet feature in this year's tournament which kicks off on Saturday week.
He expects to have Jacob Stockdale back training in Spain either today or tomorrow.
"Dave won't make the first match. He may come into contention for the second match, I think. He would be a real outside chance for the first game, but he'd be a potential chance for the second game," he said.
Ireland have been based in Valencia all week for a warm-weather training camp - a first for the head coach who is in his fifth season in the job.
And he revealed the decision to travel had been the players' idea.
"Part of it was that the players felt it would be a good idea and I felt it was a good idea as well," he said.
"We knew this season was going to be particularly tough with two European games, three derbies, then two more European games, so it's been seven tough weeks.
"The first thing is to regenerate a bit and then really roll our sleeves up. It means we get into our own little bubble and it also means the conditions we train in are consistent, so we can get a volume of work down.
"In the past, we've occasionally had really heavy frosts that have caused the ground to be a little bit hard to train on, or we've had deluges of rain. It's hard to do organisational work.
"You might have to play in that, so you can train in that for sure, but just to try and get everyone organised again, it's good to be able to do it in consistent and relatively fine conditions."
Subscribe to The Left Wing, Independent.ie's Rugby podcast in association with Laya Healthcare, with Luke Fitzgerald and Will Slattery for the best discussion and analysis each week. From in depth interviews with some of Irish rugby's biggest stars to unmatched insights into the provinces and the national team, The Left Wing has all your rugby needs covered.