Rory Best expects to finalise a new contract with Ulster and Ireland “in the very near future”.
The Ireland captain is out of contract at the end of the season but admitted he is closing in on a new deal, that will be expected to run until the end of the 2019 World Cup.
The 35-year-old hooker will skipper Ireland for the fast-approaching NatWest 6 Nations, and then will sit down with boss Joe Schmidt to discuss captaincy options for the summer and beyond.
Best intends to press on towards representing Ireland at the 2019 World Cup, but has long since made it clear he will only do so if he feels in good enough fitness and form.
“Hopefully we’ll get something sorted out in the very near future with the contract,” said Best.
Ireland have already secured new deals for prized assets Peter O’Mahony and CJ Stander, with both turning down lucrative offers from abroad to commit to boss Schmidt’s Test side.
Ulster lock Iain Henderson remains Ireland’s last top asset yet to confirm a contract renewal, but is expected to complete terms in due course.
Full-back Rob Kearney’s current deal also expires in the summer, but the Leinster star is another frontline performer expected to remain on Irish soil.
Best admitted he feels ready to press on towards further Test and club action, but reiterated his desire to keep proving himself worthy of that expected contract extension.
Best added: “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.”